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How your tax dollars turned Washington into America's richest city

 

President Obama begins his second term with American political discord and discontent at deafening levels.

But as Friday's “Boomtown: A Hannity Special” airing at 9 p.m. ET will reveal, in Washington today, the color that matters most isn’t red or blue but green—as in your hard earned tax dollars.

Washington has become a boomtown, a place where lobbyists parachute in to bag billions of your tax dollars for the rich corporate interests who fund them. Congressmen make out like bandits, too. They pepper bills with earmarks that shuttle millions to companies and institutions where their friends and family benefit.

The result: Washington, a town that produces absolutely nothing, is now the wealthiest city in America.

Here’s just some of what you'll you'll find out when you watch “Boomtown”:

Long ago, the local Native Americans named the river that runs through the city "Potomac," which means where goods are offloaded, or where tribute is paid. Today, that tribute comes in the form of trillions of dollars of taxpayer money that flood into Washington every year. 

While one out of every six Americans worry about where their next meal is coming from, Washington, D.C. has the highest rate of fine wine consumption in the United States.

While one out of four Americans has a mortgage that is under water, seven of the ten wealthiest counties in the United States are counties around this region.

Washington, D.C. now has the highest per capita income in the entire United States. They just passed Silicon Valley.

Washington, D.C. is the new boomtown. America has had boomtowns in the past. San Francisco became one during the gold rush. In Abilene, Texas it happened with cattle. And, of course, it happened in Detroit, during the heyday of the American automobile

You're learn that in Washington, D.C., a place that used to be a town of sleepy bureaucrats, is now a city filled with Maserati dealerships, fine wines, luxurious homes and luxurious shops. It's a Washington, D.C. that a lot of people never see when they tour the Capitol or go to the museums. But it's the Washington, D.C. that reflects the reality of our country today.

The great American writer, F. Scott Fitzgerald, once wrote that the rich are different from you and me. America's previous boomtowns became wealthy because they produced something.
San Francisco during the gold rush, Abilene, Texas with cattle, and of course Detroit during the heyday of the American automobile.

All of those boomtowns became very wealthy in their time because they created something new. This boomtown’s wealth comes from extracting it from the rest of the country. 

The boomtown reality is something that no one in Washington wants to talk about. When they do, they tend to blame the other side. But the reality is, today, Washington D.C.’s business is not politics. It’s money.

Nothing inspires bipartisan agreement quite like the desire of politicians and well-connected Washington cronies to get rich. By passing bills that vacuum your wallet clean, D.C. cronies can bankroll their lavish lives of luxury and power.

Consider, the following:

  • D.C. is the 4th fastest city in the country at minting new millionaires
  • Average income among the top 5% of Washington households is $473,000. That’s the highest among the 50 largest U.S. cities.
  • Average income among the top 20% of D.C. households is higher than in every city except San Francisco.
  • Between 2007-2008, the amount of money spent on lobbyists jumped by almost $500 million—the biggest jump in the last 15 years by far- because of bailout money.
  • Only Atlanta and Boston have greater income divides than the D.C. area.

Cronyism—the use of political power to enrich supporters, friends, and family—partly explains how Washington became awash in such wealth. Indeed, that’s why cronyism is so pernicious: it incentivizes the growth of government by bloating bills with perks and goodies that enrich the well-connected at taxpayer expense.

Until Americans put an end to such cronyism, Washington D.C. will continue to grow in wealth and influence. And like all boomtowns, with so much gold lying around for the looting, we can expect the worst elements to race to snatch up the riches.

Watch "Boomtown” Friday, January 25 at 9:00 p.m. ET on Fox News Channel.

Peter Schweizer is the president of the Government Accountability Institute. He is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford, and is the author of more than a dozen books. His most recent book is the New York Times bestseller, “Extortion: How Politicians Extract Your Money, Buy Votes, and Line Their Own Pockets.”