Here’s yet another example of the Republican right wing legacy — rich developers using tax money meant to help Katrina victims rebuild, to build luxury condos near the University of Alabama, which isn’t really all that close to the Gulf Coast.
With large swaths of the Gulf Coast still in ruins from Hurricane Katrina, rich federal tax breaks designed to spur rebuilding are flowing hundreds of miles inland to investors who are buying up luxury condos near the University of Alabama’s football stadium.
About 10 condominium projects are going up in and around Tuscaloosa, and builders are asking up to $1 million for units with granite countertops, king-size bathtubs and ‘Bama decor, including crimson couches and Bear Bryant wall art.
While many of the buyers are Crimson Tide alumni or ardent football fans not entitled to any special Katrina-related tax breaks, many others are real estate investors who are purchasing the condos with plans to rent them out.
And they intend to take full advantage of the generous tax benefits available to investors under the Gulf Opportunity Zone Act of 2005, or GO Zone, according to Associated Press interviews with buyers and real estate officials.
Now, you’re thinking, here’s another case of the rich taking advantage of a loophole, in order to screw the poor, right?
Think again. The bill that created these GO Zones was written to their advantage.
The GO Zone contains a variety of tax breaks designed to stimulate
construction in Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama. It offers tax-free
bonds to developers to finance big commercial projects like shopping
centers or hotels. It also allows real estate investors who buy condos
or other properties in the GO Zone to take accelerated depreciation on
their purchases when they file their taxes.
The GO Zone was drawn to include the Tuscaloosa area even though it
is about 200 miles from the coast and got only heavy rain and scattered
wind damage from Katrina.
So, here’s the deal. The Republicans in Congress created a bill, ostensibly designed to help the victims of Katrina, and drew up the affected area, so that developers in other areas could take advantage. Not only that, but why are they helping real estate developers, and not individual homeowners, anyway?
The answer is deceptively simple, folks. It’s because they simply don’t care about average people. They only care about how their rich supporters do. They claim to be in favor of the "free market," but they’re all about limiting opportunity for those who aren’t already making millions or billions of dollars in it. In the past, the government would have offered loans and grants to people to rebuild their homes and to small businesses. But the Republicans have even corrupted that concept, funneling your tax money to people who don’t need it, in order to build things that most people don’t need and can’t afford.
These are the same folks who rail about welfare for the poor, as if a woman getting a few hundred a month to feed and clothe her kids was the worst parasite there ever was. But rich developers who use your tax money to build million-dollar condos for Alabama football fans aren’t parasites at all?
Poor single mothers living in squalor in the inner city aren’t the "welfare queens," folks; it’s the rich Republican developers who are siphoning money away from the rest of us who deserve our scorn. Do they really need money meant to help people rebuild after a natural disaster to make even more money for themselves?