Mayor demands Obama apologize for ripping Las Vegas

Victor Joecks

President Obama doesn't want businesses that received bailouts to come to Las Vegas. Mayor Goodman wants an apology.

"You can't get corporate jets, you can't go take a trip to Las Vegas or go down to the Super Bowl on the taxpayer's dime," Obama said…

Las Vegas tourism officials worry that increased scrutiny on business travel will discourage meetings and conventions—business that would be crucial for the city already suffering economically. The number of visitors to Las Vegas was down 4.4 percent in 2008 compared with a year earlier, and visits in December alone declined nearly 11 percent.

Late Monday, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. said it had moved a three-day conference from the Las Vegas Strip to San Francisco amid what the bank called a broad review of its activities. Goldman Sachs has accepted $10 billion in federal bailout funds.

Yep, it's bad

Media coverage and Congressional criticism of corporate travel has created a "paralyzing environment," Roger Dow, president and chief executive of the U.S. Travel Association, said in a telephone press conference Monday.

Loews Corp. CEO James Tisch went a step further during a separate call with investors Monday about his hotel holding company's recent earnings.

"Congress has done a great job of killing the resort hotel business with the way they've criticized the number of financial firms from having conferences," Tisch said. "In fact, I just heard this morning of another investor conference that was canceled by another major investment firm because of the fear of being criticized by members of Congress." (emphasis added)

And the "little people" take it in the shorts first.

Dow said the lowest-paid workers _ bellmen, maids and waiters employed hourly _ are the first to lose their jobs when travel spending drops.

First, props to Goodman for defending and promoting the city. No telling what all the publicity is worth.

Second, and more important, this is exactly why the government shouldn't pick winners and losers. Now, don't get distracted by what a bad idea the bailout is—the point here is that when government starts to pick the winners and losers through taxes, redistribution or regulation, the winners get selected based on political considerations, not on the value they provide to the consumer. Las Vegas lost, in this case, because it was politically expedient for President Obama and others to attack "corporate junkets" and Las Vegas just happened to be caught in the crossfire.

Las Vegas was slammed precisely because it is one of the most popular entertainment and convention locations in the world. People know if you're going to Vegas, you are going to have fun and enjoy world-class facilities. Perversely, this punishes the Las Vegas businesses and individuals who have worked to make Las Vegas a popular destination.

Third, Nevada residents and politicians should take note of how Las Vegas businesses and employees got jobbed and vow not to repeat the federal government's mistakes in Nevada.

This applies especially to Mayor Goodman and his new city hall.

While Mayor Goodman is rightly complaining about how it's not fair for the federal government to select Las Vegas as a loser in the stimulus battle, it's not right for Goodman to select the winners he wants and punish others using the Las Vegas Redevelopment Agency to subsidize private developers and build memorials to himself