On its face, casinos bring in money. Las Vegas was not built thanks to the winners, but it was built on losers’ money. Some of that money was mine, and I was happy to participate. But what makes New York great is not what makes Las Vegas great.
A casino would be a mistake in Manhattan. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver is right (I’ve never said that before) to point out that major parts of the city are too crowded already. Manhattan is a bad place for a casino; parts of the Bronx might actually work if it brings new construction.
The challenge would be to make sure that the surrounding areas of New York City do not turn into the surrounding areas of Atlantic City. What politicians need to remember is that Las Vegas is a city that was designed to be what it is today, and Atlantic City and other casino towns were not.
Casinos do not save cities, and they do not make the economy much better. The system works in Las Vegas because there was no other expectation. People live in Las Vegas today, but the casino lifestyle was not dropped on them. In fact, many of them live there because of the lifestyle. New York City does not need an identity makeover. Gambling may be better practiced in the desert.
Don’t Adjust Your TVs…
You may favor the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) or you may oppose it (like 47 percent of Americans in the latest poll by Gallup), but most Americans agree that when the Supreme Court hears the case in the spring that it ought to be televised.
Here is an argument against that sentiment.
The Supreme Court has allowed for 5 1/2 hours of testimony and arguments on whether or not the health care law is constitutional. That is a lot more time than most cases are given. Normally, the Court only hears cases for an hour or two. The court’s docket is so packed with cases that they simply do not have the time to hear marathon arguments.
Almost 70 percent of both liberals and conservatives who Gallup polled say they would like this case televised. Perhaps some feel that this is such an important case that it should be open for all to see. But all cases before the court are important. They all concern the U.S. Constitution. The court would be right to take the “info-tainment” aspect out of this and keep the cameras outside.
Constitutional novices want to see if this is a win for the president, but constitutional scholars will be fixated on one judge: Justice Anthony Kennedy. Kennedy is the wild card in this race. He is the least ideological of the nine justices, and often the least predictable. Is mandating people to purchase health care a violation of the Constitution? That is the question before the court.
Some argue that Justice Elena Kagan should recuse herself from this case since she had a role in designing the health care bill. Kagan has indicated that she will not recuse herself, which is her option.
If Kagan recuses herself, it would leave eight justices, but that would still make Kennedy the pivotal justice. A 4-4 deadlock would mean that the law would stand as is. The only way that Obamacare gets ruled unconstitutional is if five justices see it as a violation.
This kind of serious matter should be unfettered by the media. If the general public wants to know the dicta or the arguments, those would be available later. Sidestepping the “no cameras” rule means that the court is suggesting that the other cases are not as important.
Whether or not the case is televised, all eyes and ears are going to be on Anthony Kennedy.
Last Week…and the Next Prediction
House Speaker John Boehner signed on to the payroll tax cut at the eleventh hour, just as we expected and predicted in last week’s column. You didn’t see any other newspaper column giving you that little bit of inside baseball.
Here is a little more political wisdom (or a lucky guess): Former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman, one of the two smartest – and least likely - candidates in the Republican field, will finish better than expected in New Hampshire.
Any votes he gets will cut into Romney’s share, but look for Huntsman to get at least 12 percent, and perhaps closer to 15 percent. Speaking of casino gambling, if they gave odds for Huntsman coming in third, they would be at least 20:1, and it might be a wise roll of the dice.