News & Politics

Time to End Corporate Welfare for Big Sugar

(Nick Ansell/PA Wire URN:22809064)

The government has propped up the sugar cartel with an elaborate scheme to keep prices high with limited imports and massive price supports.

Cui bono?

The wealthy sugar industry. Industries that use sugar — soda and candy among others –pass those costs along to the consumer. It’s time to stop that.

The Coalition for Sugar Reform is trying to end the government’s sweet deal for this large and profitable industry.

Grover Norquist, head of the taxpayer watchdog Americans for Tax Reform, briefed Congress yesterday about cutting sugar off of the government teet. Norquist described this big-government racket as a “get rich on other people’s money” scheme. Indeed it is.

Supporting such a scheme isn’t a wise idea during an election year. As Norquist warned, “those politicians who vote to maintain the status quo with the Sugar Program are really opening themselves up to more scrutiny than they’ve had in the past.”

How long has the sugar program been in place? Seventy-five years. And it comes with a price that goes beyond a larger grocery bill.  The Department of Commerce reports that 127,000 jobs were lost from 1997 to 2011 because companies were forced to pay an artificially high price for sugar.

The government-subsidization racket has been growing in recent years. Writes the Daily Caller, “the direct cost to taxpayers of the sugar program soared to $300 million because the Department of Agriculture was forced to buy up surplus sugar and remove it from the market to prop up sugar prices.”

It’s only going to get worse — the sugar program will cost an estimated $115M extra over the next decade, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

The government is using your tax dollars to purchase excess sugar to keep it off the market so you can pay more money for the “limited” sugar that remains. In addition, quotas on imported sugar make sure you can’t get cheap sugar from overseas.

So how did this happen? Congressmen trade favors with one another — one legislator gets support of his or her special interest in exchange for another legislator’s special interest getting congressional support and before you know it, a massive corporate welfare system has been created.

I’m glad to see opposition coalescing against corporate welfare from the right. The government needs to be forced to look out for the citizens, not the corporate deep pockets.