Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Abbott's "Veteran" initiatives rife with Unintended Consequences

"And the commandment, which was to bring life, I found to bring death."
Romans 7:10

In a Veterans Day appearance at the American Legion-Charles Johnson House in West Austin, Gov. Greg Abbott Saturday unveiled a series of proposals to boost economic opportunities and health care outcomes for Texas veterans.


To encourage hiring of veterans, Abbott proposed that a local option be provided for commercial property tax exemptions for each full-time, newly-hired veteran. He also proposed a local option property tax exemption of up to $30,000 for veteran entrepreneurs starting a business.

Abbott also said that, “Texas should accept licenses that are earned by military spouses in other states and waive license fees they already qualify for.”

Abbott called on the Texas Veterans Commission “to collaborate with businesses and non-profits to assist homeless veterans with housing, with employment, with better health and with substance abuse counseling.”

“I am proposing a commercial property tax exemption for entities that provide reduced-cost housing or substance abuse and mental health residential treatment programs to our veterans,” Abbott said.

[Note: Emphasis added.]
In other words, Greg Abbott is arguing for preferential tax treatment and government "collaboration" with businesses and non-profit all in the name of "helping veterans"; it doesn't take a genius to how this would backfire.

90%+ of the benefits would flow to politically connected 'veterans' who can afford the best lobbyists and the best access to politicians and bureaucrats.  As a result, everyone else pays higher tax rates.  In this case, everyone else includes the overwhelming majority of veterans.

One persistent local rumor is that various City of Austin veteran related programs are full of corruption.  We've never looked into those allegations, so we cast no specific stones, but it seems plausible.  It seems unwise to give these folks a new vehicle through the state of Texas.

Furthermore, how does Abbott plan to define the term "veteran"?!?  While the term implies someone who led a platoon in Anbar or Helmand provinces, frequently 'veterans' programs define the term so broadly that anyone who spent 10 minutes on an Army base 30 years ago can qualify.  You'll notice, specifically, that Abbott didn't use the phrase "combat veteran."

Bottom Line: The best way to help the average veteran (just like the best way to help anyone) is to keep central planners out of their way; creating new vehicles for scammers and crony capitalists only helps the politically connected.

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