The conference committee of the Maryland General Assembly has apparently killed a plan to use eminent domain against the hit TV show “House of Cards” in order to prevent it from moving filming to a different state. The proposal had previously passed the lower house of the state, legislature, the House of Delegates. It remains to be seen whether it might be resurrected in the future.
“House of Cards” deserves blame for trying to extract corporate welfare from the state legislature. The eminent domain proposal was a reaction to the show’s producers’ efforts to use the threat of moving to extract additional targeted tax credits from the state, on top of the $26.6 million it had received in previous years. But the right way to deal with wasteful corporate welfare is not eminent domain, but refusing to hand it out in the first place. Targeted subsidies and tax breaks rarely increase net economic development for states and localities. The best way to promote economic growth is to have a generally strong business climate for enterprises of all types, not favoritism for the politically influential.