Newsom’s corporate giveaway

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By Steven T. Jones
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After going through a ridiculous security check (I waited 15 minutes for an “escort,” but they never even inspected my bag) to get into Mayor Gavin Newsom’s invite-only State of the City speech last night in the Asian Art Museum, I chatted with my colleague Melissa Griffin, the blogger and Examiner columnist, as Newsom worked the room.

The mayor eventually wound his way over to me, and when I turned to greet him, he gave me a playful shove, knocking me off balance and telling me, “Be nice!” Just minutes into his speech, in which he promoted corporate tax breaks and a discredited “local economic stimulus package,” I understood what he meant.

When he introduced this trickle-down economics initiative almost a year ago, we cited studies showing that it was a political gimmick that didn’t work and shot down Newsom’s claim that the city’s economist supported this giveaway of public funds to the private sector.

But last night, Newsom chided the Board of Supervisors for not scheduling hearings on his proposal to waive payroll taxes for new businesses and new jobs, create tax credits for health insurance costs, and extend current tax breaks for biotech companies, seemingly oblivious to the fact that such actions will add to the massive budget deficit that he barely mentioned.

The Chronicle today quoted gleeful Chamber of Commerce head Steve Falk and the chilly reaction that this strange initiative got from supervisors, but San Francisco Democratic Party chair Aaron Peskin went even further, this morning telling us, “I am so disappointed that the mayor of San Francisco is taking a page from the playbook of the Republican Party. This sounds like Ronald Reagan’s trickle down economics. In an era when some of the richest corporations have made zillions of dollars and the U.S. government just gave them zillions more, now we’re going to close hospitals and say we can’t pave our streets.”