Corporate America got religion ahead of Easter this year, as peace broke out in America’s tax-break war among the states.
In Seattle, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos issued an apology for his company’s public auction for its second headquarters, or HQ2. “We admit we were jerking everybody around to create pressure for bigger tax breaks,” said Bezos. “It was great fun watching all those mayors grovel, but we had our short list years ago and Crystal City and Queens were always at the top. To those thousands of public officials who lost their weekends and evenings throughout late 2017 and early 2018 chasing a fool’s errand, we truly and sincerely apologize.”
As a token of contrition, Bezos announced that he will issue Amazon gift cards worth $100,000 to each of the 238 places that applied. “We won’t even ask the mayors to post fake reviews the way the mayor of Kansas City did,” said Bezos. “Plus we’ll offer them special discounts on The Everything Store and The Great American Jobs Scam.”
In Virginia, Amazon will disgorge its annual workforce cash grants of at least $550 million. Half will go to the Arlington Low-Income Housing Trust Fund and half to fund Community Land Trusts for permanently affordable housing in low-income neighborhoods of Arlington and Alexandria. Bezos also announced that Amazon will disgorge its $23 million Arlington County hotel-tax diversion and grant those monies to local community groups for research and advocacy against gentrification and displacement.
“We also want to apologize to everyone in Queens,” said Bezos. “We promise that we’ll keep growing in New York, just like Google and Facebook, and we won’t ask for a dime.”
Finally, Bezos announced that Amazon will reverse its position on Seattle’s big-company head tax to fund homeless shelters and affordable housing, and that he will personally bankroll another ballot initiative to create a personal income tax on Washington State millionaires and billionaires. “Mackenzie and I were proud to support the nation’s first successful marriage equality ballot initiative,” said Bezos. “Like gay marriage 20 years ago, today they say taxing people like me can’t be done. But with our world-class data analytics, we can sell people anything.”
Meanwhile, in Washington DC, the White House was rocked when a passage of the Mueller report was leaked. It alleged that Foxconn’s implausible project to manufacture LCD screens in Wisconsin was actually an effort by China to blunt the President’s position in trade talks between the two nations.
As reparations, President Trump and Foxconn chairman Terry Gou announced that they were canceling the $4.8 billion Wisconsin deal and moving to undo its harm. “Our Reuters interview was not fake news,” said Gou. “We’ll never manufacture anything in Wisconsin. Luckily, the state has not given us a dime yet. We will cover all the expenses incurred so far by Racine County and Mt. Pleasant, and we’ll try to restore the property and homes taken from residents by eminent domain.”
The news also prompted President Trump to disown subsidy auctions like the one he helped Foxconn stage. “I don’t know what I was thinking when I endorsed the war among the states during my speech at the Carrier plant,” said Trump. “It was like when I said ‘would’ instead of ‘wouldn’t’ in Helsinki. I’m changing my slogan to ‘United States of America First’ to make it clear that California is not my enemy, even though that’s where Nancy Pelosi is from.”
Finally, in Louisiana, that state’s Association for Business and Industry (LABI), together with Exxon Mobil, announced they will stop trying to block Together Louisiana’s grassroots campaign to reform the notorious Industrial Tax Exemption Program (ITEP). “We had a hell of a good run, stripping local governments of control over their property taxes for more than 80 years,” said a LABI spokeswoman. “It’s our claim to fame, something special interests have never won in another state. Some might call it America’s very own version of the resource curse; we call it our trophy on the mantle.”
“All that huffing and puffing about going to Texas is just a head fake,” she admitted. “Our teachers need a raise and our roads need repairs. We didn’t want to admit it, but property taxes are the least of our costs. Let’s all reinvest in Louisiana!”
Happy April Fool’s Day!