Pro-family activists are working to defeat a provision in a hurricane-recovery bill in Congress that would, in part, provide federal tax breaks for casino owners to rebuild their businesses in the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
“Giving precious tax dollars to lucrative gambling interests that are reporting billion-dollar profits is an outrage,” wrote Family Research Council President Tony Perkins in an e-mail to supporters.
The bill in question, the Gulf Opportunity Zone Act, H.R.4155, is designed to offer tax relief to businesses that were heavily damaged by the pair of hurricanes in September. Approximately half-a-billion dollars in tax credits have been proposed for casinos.
Officially introduced Thursday by Rep. Jim McCrery, R-La., the bill was referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means.
FRC notes U.S. economic development policy traditionally has excluded recreational businesses like golf courses and tanning salons when administering such programs as enterprise zones.
Commented Perkins: “Right now, with federal spending spiraling out of control, Congress should not even think about dishing up tax relief for the thriving gaming industry.”
Thursday, Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va., called on Congress to prohibit massage parlors, casinos, liquor stores and country clubs – among other businesses – from receiving special tax breaks related to hurricane recovery.
Said Wolf on the floor on the House: “As Congress considers cuts to Medicaid, food stamps, the student loan program, foster care, child support, aid to the disabled and other social programs to offset the costs of hurricane recovery, we must be sure that tax incentives only go to worthy businesses. Federal tax dollars need to be focused on those who truly need the government’s help, like the poor, vulnerable and elderly. …
“Allowing gambling conglomerates … which are reporting billion-dollar profits, to take advantage of tax breaks doesn’t make sense. Gambling operators don’t need any incentive to rebuild and, according to press reports, have already vowed to come back ‘bigger and better’ than before the hurricanes struck.”
Calling gambling a “predatory industry,” Perkins called on supporters to contact their members of Congress about the legislation.
“We need your help to block this waste of government funds at the expense of the less fortunate,” he said.
The American Family Association has also been outspoken against the tax breaks, writing to supporters: “The Republicans have been courting the gambling industry for years, and this appears to be an effort to bring that alliance even closer.”