Rep. Wolf Blasts Plan for Tax Breaks for Gambling Industry
Reacting to a story in today's Post www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/09/21/AR2005092102394.html that the gambling industry may receive special tax breaks after Hurricane Katrina, Rep. Frank R.Wolf (R-VA) today made the following remarks on the floor of the House:
"I cannot believe the White House is planning to provide the gambling industry in the Gulf region with special tax breaks as part of its economic recovery package. This is a disgrace. In the wake of the devastation left by Hurricane Katrina, taxpayer dollars should be helping those in need . . . the poor, the vulnerable.
"In today's Post, White House officials are quoted as saying they don't plan to exclude the gambling interests from receiving tax breaks and don't want to pick which businesses are helped and which aren't. However, the state of Mississippi does not even provide special economic development tax breaks for the gambling interests.
"Frankly, I'm outraged. And probably more telling is the shock coming from the industry itself. A Harrah's spokesman in this morning's Post is quoted as saying, 'we're actually scratching our heads. We can't ever remember an instance of being offered a tax credit - ever!'
"Economists in Mississippi even say it's not necessary. 'The casinos don't need this. If they are eligible, that would be a complete waste of money,' William Shughart, an economist at the University of Mississippi told the Post.
"This is outrageous. With budget deficits growing to historic levels, tax breaks for the gambling industry do not make sense. This special interest tax break can only make a tragic situation worse.
"If the Bush Administration allows this to remain in the relief package it will be a disgrace and the American people will turn against them. Give the money to the poor, the needy and the vulnerable, not the gambling interests who already have insurance to cover catastrophic events like hurricanes."