Big Corn vs. Big Sugar Could Have a Sweet Outcome for Taxpayers

Washington Post
Column By: Charles Lane

Excerpt: In the never-ending fight against corporate welfare, the forces of fairness and economic rationality may have found a winning strategy: Divide and conquer.

Sometimes business lobbies leave one another’s subsidies and tax benefits alone, for fear that a general rout of all rent-seekers might ensue. This is why, for example, we have an annual “tax extenders” bill, which simultaneously renews a few dozen special breaks in the Internal Revenue Code that could never survive politically on their own.

… And now comes news of more blessed discord, this time among the agriculture lobbies. The Corn Refiners Association, headed by giant grain processors such as Cargill and Archer Daniels Midland, is taking aim at the federal sugar subsidy program — which shares both Ex-Im’s birth year, 1934, and its propensity for wasting resources and distorting markets.

Perhaps you did not know that it is unambiguously in the public interest for the United States’ sugar farmers and refiners to make a profit, even though many other countries produce this fungible, but dietarily dubious, commodity at a lower cost.

Well, Congress, well-lubricated by the sugar lobby, believes that it is, and hasn’t really revisited that conclusion for decades. And so we have country-by-country quotas on imports, buttressed by domestic price supports.

Read the full piece here.