Joplin: Six Years After Devastating Tornado – Rush Limbaugh Was Right

Guest post by Reboot Congress

Six years ago today, one of the worst tornadoes in American history struck Joplin, Missouri. Several thousand buildings were destroyed and over 9,000 people were displaced. More than 160 deaths are attributed to the tornado.

There was a tremendous outpouring from the rest of America. The tornado captured the country’s attention.


A little over a month after the tornado struck, on July 4th, Rush Limbaugh went to Joplin to offer some words of encouragement:

Part of what Rush Limbaugh said was this:

“You’re going to build back. It is going to get fixed. It is going to be rebuilt. It is going to be better than it ever was. You are going to show the rest of the country how it’s done because you represent the best of what this country has to offer.”

Today, Joplin has largely rebuilt. Missouri’s free market think tank, the Show-Me Institute, published a paper in April about tax-increment financing (or, TIF–it’s a government subsidy) in post-tornado Joplin.

The introduction to the paper explains:

“Joplin was rebuilt, and rebuilt quickly. As part of the reconstruction effort, city leaders adopted a tax increment financing (TIF) subsidy program and created the Joplin Redevelopment Corporation to manage it. What happened next is a useful lesson in TIF and development subsidies for all Missourians: The taxpayer funded scheme played little if any role in Joplin’s almost-immediate reconstruction. In fact, the subsidies appear to have done little more than allow for mismanagement and profiteering.”

The paper also notes:

“Not only has Joplin recaptured all lost assessed property value and then some, but the city claims that the population was higher in 2015 than it was in 2010 before the tornado.”

The paper’s author, Patrick Tuohey, recently visited Joplin to report on this transformation:

In short, Rush was right. While we can never forget the many people who lost their lives and those who suffered life altering injuries from the tornado; the people of Joplin, with the help of Americans across the fruited plain, rebuilt the city despite the failure of the TIF subsidy. The people worked (and continue to work) to make Joplin better than it ever was and in so doing showed themselves to be the very best that this country has to offer.

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