When Conservative Politicians Lose Their Minds

John Steigerwald Contributor
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What is it about sports teams that cause conservatives to lose their minds?

Before Donald Trump crashed the party, according to most of the polls, Wisconsin governor Scott Walker was leading in the Republican primary.

He sells himself as a fiscal conservative and most voters seem to have bought what he’s selling.

And maybe his record as governor backs up the claim.

So why is he in favor of corporate welfare?

The corporation is the Milwaukee Bucks of the NBA.

They want a new arena and they want the taxpayers of Wisconsin to pay for it. So does Walker.

He justifies it by saying that the state would lose more money if the Bucks followed through on their threat to leave town. He points to the taxes paid by the Bucks franchise and the state income taxes that the Bucks’ players and visiting players will pay between now and when the debt is paid.

Walker told ABC News, “Our return on investment is three to one. It’s a good deal.”

Even National Review’s Christian Schneider bought that pile of steaming horse manure and apologized for Walker’s support of corporate welfare.

What people like Walker and Schneider don’t or won’t understand is that, if the Bucks were to pay for their own arena, those revenues would still be raised by the state, but the money could be spent on something other than a building that should be paid for by the building’s tenant.

Couldn’t every restaurant that pays taxes and hires employees who pay state income taxes make the same argument and ask the state of Wisconsin to pay for a new building?

Neither Walker nor any other politician passing him or herself off as a conservative would buy that argument.

There are stadiums and arenas all over America that are financed by plans that have been supported by conservative politicians.

Including two in Pittsburgh, PNC Park and Heinz Field, that were funded by a corrupt plan endorsed by another conservative candidate for the Republican nomination, former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum.

David Boaz of the Cato Institute cites several economic studies that should be required reading for all political candidates, including Walker, who buy and sell the notion that building stadiums for billionaires is great for the economy.

One study done by Raymond Keating of the Cato Institute called “Sports Pork: The Costly Relationship between Major League Sports and Government,” says, “The lone beneficiaries of sports subsidies are team owners and players… the results of studies on changes in the economy resulting from the presence of stadiums, arenas and sports teams show no positive economic impact from professional sports – or a possible negative effect.”

I’ll bet Scott Walker agrees with the Cato Institute on economic policy 99% of the time.

So what is it about a sports team that causes him to lose his conservative senses?

Boaz says, “Any presidential candidate who believes that taxpayer-subsidized stadiums are ‘A good deal,’ shouldn’t be anywhere near the federal Treasury.”

A poll taken several months ago in Wisconsin showed that 79% of voters were opposed to the state paying $150 million for the Bucks’ new arena. The plan Walker is pushing has the taxpayers paying $250 million.

Instead of caving in to the pressure from vocal fans and a cheer leading media, like so many other governors in so many other states, shouldn’t a true conservative running for president be taking the lead to stop the insanity?

Maybe there’s a reporter or two in Iowa this weekend who could ask Governor Walker that question.

Pittsburgh ex-TV sportscaster, columnist and talk show host John Steigerwald is the author of the Pittsburgh sports memoir, “Just Watch The Game.” Follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast at pittsburghpodcastnetwork.com