Planet Money: Relocation Incentives: Kansas City vs Kansas City

When Amazon announced the locations for its second headquarters, it ended months of cities and states courting the tech giant with eye-popping tax incentives. A bunch of you wrote us and asked: Why are all these places offering this rich company huge tax breaks? Isn’t Amazon rich enough? Does it make a difference?

Back in 2016, we did an episode about this exact question. We found some answers along a narrow stretch of road that divides Kansas from Missouri. Here it is, with a little update.

McCaskill’s Intimidation Game

The Missouri senator runs attack ads not on her opponent but one of his supporters.

Team McCaskill is already employing the Democratic Party’s go-to tactic this midterm: character assassination. There’s not much else. The economy is humming, the party’s centrist and liberal wings are fighting, and the drumbeat of impending Trump doom isn’t finding much accompaniment. So in Missouri as elsewhere, candidates are reverting to personal attacks. But the McCaskill forces are piling on a guy who isn’t even running.

.. Indeed, they are attacking a private citizen and donor, David Humphreys. Back in March, Chuck Schumer’s Senate Majority PAC began plowing millions into attacks on the businessman, who donated to Mr. Hawley’s campaign for attorney general. The pattern is the same: An ad makes a malicious accusation against Mr. Humphreys, then sidles over to tar Mr. Hawley with guilt by association. Just how invested are they in this strategy? Since airing their first spot, 70% of Democratic ads—amounting to $4.7 million—have been focused on Mr. Humphreys.

.. Ms. McCaskill’s pickle is that the GOP has upped its recruitment game. Her only prior re-election bid in 2012 had her face off against Todd Akin, who self-immolated after his blundering comments on abortion and rape. Mr. Hawley—a savvier, younger man and squeaky clean—hasn’t provided a similar opening. A native Missourian and onetime U.S. Supreme Court law clerk, he arrived on the political scene only in 2016, becoming the Show Me State’s first Republican attorney general in 24 years.
.. Mr. Humphreys is a long and active participant in Missouri civic life. He’s been a major backer of judicial reform, so the trial bar loathes him. He pushed hard for the state’s recently enacted right-to-work law, so unions loathe him. He sits on the boards of the free-market Cato and Acton institutes, so liberals in general loathe him.
.. A liberal organization, Campaign for Accountability, sought to keep the affair in the news by filing an official complaint with a federal prosecutor in Missouri. It may now wish it hadn’t. Mr. Humphreys’s attorney recently got a letter from U.S. Attorney Timothy Garrison, stating that his office had followed protocol and referred the issue to the FBI, which determined that “there was no basis for further inquiry.”
.. That won’t stop the attacks because they serve a greater purpose. Beyond the smears against Messrs. Hawley and Humphreys, such ads are a warning to other donors. Don’t get involved, or your reputations and businesses will be next.
.. Intimidation and threats, leveled against private citizens, are now standard liberal practice.
.. It isn’t about transparency in the public interest; it’s about identifying new political targets.

Transcript of Trump’s remarks at fundraiser in Missouri on March 14

.. I mean seriously, when you see what’s happening you look — we’re renegotiating NAFTA right now. I don’t know that we can make it good.

I tell people openly, because the best deal is to terminate it and then make a new deal. But I don’t know that we can make a deal because Mexico is so spoiled with this horrible deal that they’ve lived with, from our standpoint horrible.

So think of it, Mexico makes more than a hundred billion dollars a year on the United States. Now, how stupid is this.

But sometimes something is so good that you can’t — how do you? The best way? Terminate, let’s start all over again. Let’s start all over again. But some of the politicians are afraid to terminate, oh, we don’t want to terminate NAFTA. Take a look at these empty mills all over the place, that they turn into nursing homes, you know. Nice solid walls on the outside. But, it’s — it just can’t be.

I really think we’re making the point a lot of people are digging it. I will tell you, the people that really count, which is you, the workers, everybody, they’re really understanding what’s going on. Nobody’s done what I’m doing. I mean it’s sort of really virgin territory.

It’s absolutely virgin territory. It’s territory that our country for 50 or 60 or 70 years has not wanted to go there. They just haven’t for whatever reason.

And our wealth has been taken, our jobs have been taken, our companies have moved, and now they’re starting to move back. So it’s, it’s a formula that is, it’s just absolute — there’s disruption, there’s anger. And just remember, our friends that everybody says — our allies, our allies are wonderful — I love our allies. Our allies care about themselves, they don’t care about us. You look at our trade deficit with these countries are our allies. It’s unbelievable. And they understand it. I don’t blame them.

I told Japan — so we lose 100 billion dollars a year with Japan — 100 billion. So why aren’t we taxing their cars when they come in. Then we’d lose nothing. We might even make something. And you know what they’re going to do, they’re going to say we don’t want to pay that tax, so let’s build plants in the United States. They already have some. But they’ll expand them and they’ll build new plants. Because they don’t want to pay the tax — I want them to build new plants in the United States. Let them make United States here — like China makes them do, we have a company, they want to build planes over there, hate to say it, Boeing is being forced to build plants. I don’t like that, I don’t like it, so I’m not saying China’s wrong. I was with President Xi, I was with a big group of people, and I was saying how China is ripping off the United States. And he’s like “woo, this is uncomfortable.” [Laughter.] 700 press. I’m saying China is ripping off our — but I don’t blame you. I say, it’s great that you were able to do it for yourselves. I blame the people that represented our country, because they were not doing their job — they were delinquent in allowing this to happen to us. So we owe 21 trillion dollars. We lose 800 billion a year.

Josh will say, I don’t think I’m going to ruin [unintelligible.] Think of it, Josh. We lose 800 billion a year on trade. Who made these deals? Who made these deals?

Then you have certain people that think it’s okay to lose 800. You know, these worldly people. You know why they’re worldly people, because they have stuff on the other side. [Laughter.] That’s what it is. Can’t be any other reason. But we lose 800 billion dollars a year on trade. We lose our jobs, we lose everything.
And it’s not happening anymore, because it’s starting to come back. But over the next few months, you’re going to find it even more interesting. Because things are really — you know, we have, statutorily you have to do this, this, this, wait 90 days, wait six months, you can’t do it, you’re not allowed to legally. We have agreements that are so bad.

We have one agreement with a trade. I said when does that agreement terminate, it’s terrible. Sir, there is no termination. I said, what do you mean? We don’t have the right to term — I said, well, okay, after 10 years, 20 years. No sir, there is no right of term — I said what the hell kind of — So you know what I did, I just terminated. [Applause.]

Which would mean that’s, we’ll call it unconstitutional. There’s no end date. There’s no nothing. I’ll give you another example, Mexico, so they have this great deal. The day it was signed, it was a bad deal, because they have a 16 percent VAT tax, and we don’t. So they were already up 16 percent before the deal. And nobody saw that. And by the time they realized it, the deal was gone. But instead of adjusting the deal — what was that, 30 years ago when it was first signed — instead of adjusting the deal, we lived with it. What the hell difference does it make?

So they had a 16 percent step up advantage on us, and they have for many years. And Mexico and Canada — and, by the way, Canada, they negotiate tougher than Mexico. Trudeau came to see me, he’s a good guy, Justin. He said, no, no, we have no trade deficit with you, we have none. Donald, please. Nice guy, good-looking, comes in — Donald, we have no trade deficit — he was very proud, because everybody else you know were getting killed with our, so he’s [unintelligible]. I said wrong, Justin, you do. I didn’t even know. Josh, I had no idea. I just said, you’re wrong. You know why? Because we’re so stupid. [Unintelligible, laughter] And I thought they were smart.

I said you’re wrong, Justin. He said, Nope, we have no trade deficit. I said, Well, in that case, I feel differently, I said, but I don’t believe it. I sent one of our guys out, his guy, my guy, they went out, I said, Check, because I can’t believe it.

.. Well sir you’re actually right. We have no deficit, but that doesn’t include energy and timber. But when you do we lose 17 billion dollars a year. It’s incredible. So you’re in good hands. And I need Josh to help [unintelligible]. [Applause.]

Claire McCaskill is a guaranteed negative vote on every single thing that you people stand for, and frankly that a vast majority of the people of Missouri stand for. It is a negative vote for our country. And you have to defeat Claire McCaskill. Last time she get very lucky. She got lucky — she was going to lose. That was a done deal. And then, something happened. I was watching, I said, oh! What happened. That was big! The next day I said, oh yeah, I was right, I watched that.

So you got to get her out. Bad for Missouri, bad for the country. And this is going to be a great United States senator. Thank you very much. [Applause.]

Why George Soros gets blamed for Eric Greitens’s troubles and other conservative gripes

The day after Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens was indicted by a grand jury on a felony invasion-of-privacy charge, the state’s Republican Party began pointing fingers.

Not at Greitens, whose indictment stems from alleged actions during an extramarital affair, but at Democratic-leaning billionaire George Soros.

.. Gardner launched an investigation into Greitens’s affair in January, when accusations emerged that Greitens threatened to use a nude photo to blackmail his former hairstylist, with whom he was having the affair.

.. Soros, a billionaire philanthropist and leading donor to liberal causes, has become a bogeyman to conservative figures who see him as a political machine

.. Some conservatives view the 86-year-old, who is worth about $25 billion, in a nefarious light, particularly after he donated to groups trying to stop President George W. Bush’s reelection bid in 2004 and after his vocal opposition to the Iraq War.

 .. In the years since, Soros has found himself at the center of right-wing propaganda and conspiracy theories.
..  KMOV in St. Louis published a covert recording by Greitens’s former hairstylist’s ex-husband. In it, the hairstylist is heard describing how Greitens invited her to his home in 2015 and, with her consent, taped her hands to exercise rings and blindfolded her. He then allegedly took a photo of her naked without her knowledge.Greitens then “transmitted the image contained in the photograph in a manner that allowed access to that image via a computer,” which is a felony, according to the indictment.

GOP candidate blames human trafficking on sexual liberation, saying it leads to ‘slavery’ of women

A leading candidate for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate in Missouri recently blamed the problem of human trafficking on the sexual revolution of the 1960s and ’70s during remarks he gave at a religious conference.

Josh Hawley, the state’s attorney general and the Trump-endorsed candidate as the party tries to unseat Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill

.. one of his opponents for the Republican nomination, Courtland Sykes, who criticized feminists and career-focused women as “nail-biting manophobic hellbent feminist she-devils” and said he expected his fiancee to make dinner for him every night.

.. The sexual liberation of the 1960s was part of a cultural upheaval that included the growth of the feminist and gay rights movements. It was not clear how exactly Hawley connected the sexual openness of the decade to human trafficking.

.. She said that sex trafficking has been

She said that sex trafficking has been an issue in the United States as long as the country has been around and added that it drew attention after the Civil War.

“There are quite a few politicians, both Republican and Democrat, who try to use the issue to help themselves get elected without doing much research,” Mehlman-Orozco said. “It’s a bipartisan issue that most people can come behind.”

.. Another man seeking the state’s Republican nomination, Austin Peterson, compared Hawley’s statements to those made by another candidate who had tried unsuccessfully to unseat McCaskill during a previous election cycle. Former U.S. Rep. Todd Akin (R)

.. “It would also be great if GOP Senate candidates could stop writing Claire’s attack ads and fundraising emails for her,” Peterson said, according to the Star. “These comments do nothing but foster a Todd Akin-style culture war that the GOP will lose to a formidable female incumbent.”

Most U.S. States Aren’t Prepared For the Next Recession

Just 16 states have adequate backup money on hand, according to a new Moody’s Analytics analysis

If the next recession hit the U.S. this year, more than a quarter of states would be financially unprepared to weather even a moderate downturn, according to a new report.

Fifteen states would struggle in the case of a recession-related tax revenue slump and spike in demand for services, such as Medicaid. They are more than 5 percentage points below the share of funds left in their budgets they would need to tap, according to a new Moody’s Analytics analysis. Another 19 states narrowly fall short.

Just 16 states have adequate backup money on hand, with Alaska having almost three times as much as the state would need to keep its economy buoyant.

 

STATE
EXTRA CASH ON HAND
NECESSARY BACKUP FUNDS
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN EXTRA CASH AND NECESSARY BACK-UP FUNDS
Louisiana 3.10% 27.20% -24.00%
North Dakota 0.70% 20.10% -19.40%
Oklahoma 4.00% 16.00% -12.10%
New Mexico -1.10% 10.00% -11.10%
Illinois 0.40% 11.10% -10.70%
Colorado 5.30% 15.10% -9.80%
New Jersey 1.40% 11.00% -9.60%
Pennsylvania -1.80% 6.90% -8.80%
Missouri 5.40% 13.80% -8.40%
Kansas 1.60% 9.20% -7.60%