Monday, September 05, 2016

On EB-5, some right-wingers really get it (columnist Malkin, Senate longshot Long)

One lesson of Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park, starting with eminent domain, is that good public policy can make strange ideological bedfellows--or, perhaps, that bad public policy is carried out by monied interests with a vested interest in the status quo.

So that means, on the issue of EB-5, which supplies immigrant investors visas in exchange for purportedly job-creating investments (but in reality is like "legalized crack cocaine" for developers, to quote an admirer), some right-wingers get it.

Schumer challenger Long

So, while I don't back Trump follower Wendy Long, the Republican-Conservative longshot challenger to entrenched New York Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer, on this issue she's exactly right.

As reported in Newsday 8/18/16, and in an accompanying press release, Long has attacked Schumer--whose fourth-largest individual donor is Fragomen, a law firm specializing in EB-5 (as the Real Deal reported last December)--for being the "King of Pay to Play."

"This is a moment for honest liberal Democrats to insist that Schumer stop writing off the poor while filling his campaign coffers from well-connected big corporations, wealthy foreigners, and lobbyists," Long said.

Atlantic Yards in blue. Area of "high unemployment "in red.
Graphic by Abby Weissman
"The immigration laws of the United States should not be used to buy and sell political favors," said Long. "I would end the EB-5 program altogether if we cannot establish that it can be used only to bring development to impoverished places where it otherwise truly would not occur under normal American market forces. In midtown and downtown Manhattan, that is clearly not the case."

That's indisputable, but developers and a host of intermediaries, including law firms and regional centers, have all been on the EB-5 gravy train, gerrymandering--with the help of local government-so-called Targeted Employment Areas to "prove" that projects are located in areas of high unemployment. 

That allows investors to park only $500,000 in a purported job-creating project, rather than $1 million.

See what I call the Bed-Stuy Boomerang, for Atlantic Yards, which extends east and north from the project site.

Newsday got an incredibly dubious quote from a Schumer spokesman: "Sen. Schumer believes that EB-5 works best, and creates the most jobs for those who need them, when the program supports projects where actual need exists — not just predetermined government zones."

Not only are the locations laughable, EB-5 often doesn't create jobs--it substitutes lower-cost capital for more expensive loans.

Another conservative who gets it on EB-5: Malkin

Conservative syndicated columnist Michelle Malkin (not historically a Trump fan, but hoping he takes a hard line on immigration overall) gets it too regarding EB-5.

In her book Sold Out : How High-Tech Billionaires & Bipartisan Beltway Crapweasels Are Screwing America's Best & Brightest Workers, written with John Miano, Malkin devotes several pages to EB-5, and in the segment devoted to Atlantic Yards quotes my work.

Even Schumer gets a mention.






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