The details are as shocking as they are disgusting. See the extended entry for just how profound this ruling really is.
In striking down the lower court ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court not only ruled against Ohio taxpayers, but against all taxpayers. Chief Justice John Roberts, formerly a corporate lawyer, said in the official opinion that "State taxpayers have no standing ... to challenge state tax or spending decisions simply by virtue of their status as taxpayers." In other words, not only will the Ohio law remain, but state taxpayers throughout the country now have no legal right to challenge the decisions of their bought-and-paid-for elected officials who are selling off our government to the highest bidder.
To get a sense of just how far reaching an affront to taxpayers' rights this ruling is, consider that USA Today earlier reported that taxpayers in other states were moving forward with similar cases. As just one example, in North Carolina, taxpayers have challenged the state's $242 million giveaway to Dell Computer. Now, the Supreme Court has essentially said they aren't even allowed to bring such a case.
Remember - these taxpayer giveaways are accelerating and come at a huge cost in terms of higher taxes for individuals. As USA Today noted, "In 1977, nine states gave tax credits to corporations [but] by 1998, that number had grown to 36." At the same time, "individual income taxes are growing at a faster rate than corporate income taxes" because state/local governments are recovering the tax giveaways from ordinary citizens. According to the Census Bureau, "corporate income taxes collected rose 6.5% from 1994 to 2004, while individual income taxes collected went up 49.7%."
Also remember that, as Greg LeRoy notes in his book The Great American Jobs Scam, these taxpayer giveaways often do not result in the benefits Big Business promises. In fact, many of the corporations that receive these taxpayer giveaways never even follow through on the economic development or job creation they promise.
But then, that's what this is really all about: bought-off politicians giving away our hard-earned taxpayer dollars to already wealthy corporations without demanding anything in return. We see this with the Medicare bill and how it gives away more than $1 trillion to the health care/pharmaceutical industries without demanding these industries lower their prices (in fact, the bill prohibits the government from negotiating lower prices for medicines). We see it with the energy bill and how it gives away billions in new tax breaks to oil companies without asking them to lower their prices. And we see it with corporate welfare.
As I note in my new book Hostile Takeover, this is the best we can hope for from our corrupt government: policies that shower Big Business with taxpayer cash in order to bribe companies to do things. This throw-money-at-the-problem corruption substitutes for a government that should be asserting itself as a protector of ordinary citizens by forcing powerful economic institutions to play by a set of rules. Now, thanks to the Supreme Court, taxpayers have even less of a legal right to try to force their own government to assert itself and fight back against this hostile takeover.