CCAGW Points to Rogues’ Gallery of Sugar Cartel Republicans

For Immediate Release Contact: Leslie K. Paige 202-467-5334
June 24, 2013 Luke Gelber 202-467-5318

(Washington, D.C.) – Stereotypes of members of Congress hold that Democrats never met a subsidy or a set-aside that they didn’t like, while Republicans expound the virtues of free markets and fiscal conservatism.  That’s the problem with stereotypes: they are never 100 percent accurate.  With this in mind, the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW) is unveiling the 2013 Rogues’ Gallery of Republicans who voted against taxpayers, consumers, and free markets in favor of subsidies, set-asides and special interests when they voted against sugar reform in amendment #227 to the 2013 Farm Bill.  The amendment was defeated on June 20 by a vote of 206-221.  In the process, the rogues proved themselves more loyal to sugar producers and corporate welfare than the welfare of ordinary citizens.

The federal commodity support program for sugar can only be described as a government-mandated cartel, one that would likely be deemed illegal if it had arisen without government assistance.  Its array of production quotas and import restrictions guarantees a price floor for sugar that averages nearly double the price paid by the rest of the world.  In 2012 and 2011, American consumers would have saved $2.9 billion and $4.5 billion, respectively, if sugar had been available at the world price. 

Sugar beet and cane growers can be found in 42 congressional districts out of 435, or less than 10 percent, on an estimated 4,700 farms and plantations.  These facilities represent about 18,000 direct jobs in sugar production, compared to an estimated 600,000 direct jobs in the sugar-using food manufacturing sector.  According to the Department of Commerce, for every sugar-producing job saved by the current array of production quotas, import restrictions, and price controls that make up the sugar program, the American economy loses three manufacturing jobs.  Indeed, the sugar-using industry lost 127,000 food manufacturing jobs between 1997 and 2011.  Over the same period, in Canada, where sugar can be bought at the world price, the value of sugar and confectionary product manufacturing exports to the U.S. grew from $621 million to $1.56 billion, an increase of 157 percent. 

Now, after decades of rebuffed reform and another disappointing vote, the time for a public shaming of the sugar program’s supporters has arrived.  The 95 Republicans who voted to preserve this absurd system of market interference and cronyism can be viewed here.  Since the overall farm bill was defeated, there will be an opportunity for at least 12 of these rogues to stand up for taxpayers and change their vote in order to reform one of the nation’s most egregious examples of wasteful spending. 

The Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW) is the lobbying arm of Citizens Against Government Waste, the nation’s largest nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement in government.

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