|4:52 PM EDT||
Steve Chabot, R-OH 1st
Mr. CHABOT. Mr. Chairman, the rationale behind this amendment is simple. Hard-working taxpayers should not have to subsidize the advertising costs of America's private corporations, yet this is exactly what the Market Access Program does.
Since 1986, the Federal Government has extracted well over $1 billion from the pockets of American taxpayers and handed it to multimillion dollar corporations to subsidize their marketing programs in foreign countries. In other words, the U.S. taxpayer is helping successful private companies and trade associations advertise their wares in foreign countries.
Mr. Chairman, I think the American people would agree that their money could be better spent on deficit reduction for education. Rather than subsidize private businesses and corporations, that money could much better be spent on deficit reduction or on education or on saving Social Security, on the environment, or on tax cuts.
In the past, we have witnessed MAP supporters present some good-sounding arguments for preserving what is in my view a corporate welfare scheme. The only problem is that when we cut through the pro-MAP propaganda, there is no credible evidence to back up their claims.
Let me give my colleagues an example. MAP supporters have argued that this so-called business government partnership creates jobs. But I think, Mr. Chairman, that the American people know that the only jobs usually created by big government spending programs are for big government bureaucracies.
This view of the MAP program is backed by the General Accounting Office. GAO studies indicated that this program has no discernible effect on U.S. agricultural exports. So if the program cannot increase U.S. exports, how can it possibly create more private-sector jobs?
For years, supporters of MAP have lauded the economic benefits created by the program. However, in April 1999, a GAO report, requested by myself and Senator SCHUMER and a bipartisan group of House Members, concluded that the economic benefits of this program are uncertain at best.
According to that report, it seems that the Foreign Agricultural Service, the bureaucracy which administers this corporate welfare program, has used certain assumptions that the OMB has determined to be inadequate for economic benefit analysis. For example, the Foreign Agricultural Service assumes that there are no opportunity costs for promoting one product over another.
But even if my colleagues do believe these supposed benefits, they have all the more reason to support this amendment. These numbers, if accurate, prove that, given these positive returns on an investment overseas, MAP-supported corporations and trade associations ought to be spending their own money and not the money of the taxpayers of this Nation.
My opposition to MAP is not based solely on the false premises of its supporters. I am offering this amendment today because we simply do not need this wasteful program. Let us be honest. Most American businesses do not benefit and do not try to take advantage of government handouts like this MAP program.
In the case of MAP, as in most corporate welfare programs, beneficiaries consist primarily of politically well-connected corporations and trade associations. Most, if not all of these organizations, would advertise their products overseas, even without MAP funds. They probably would work much harder to ensure that the money is well spent.
Let me give just one example of the kind of waste and mismanagement that this program breeds. We all remember a few years ago when the California Raisin Board sponsored the ``I heard it through the grapevine'' raisin commercial. Based on the success of that commercial in the U.S., MAP decided that it would be a good idea to use that commercial to attempt to boost raisin sales in Japan and put $3 million into the project.
Not surprisingly, however, the ads played in English, leaving many Japanese confused, unaware that the dancing characters were raisins. Most thought they were potatoes or chocolate. In addition, many Japanese children were afraid of the wrinkled, misshapen figures. This, of course, is the kind of wasteful spending that inevitably occurs when we give someone the ability to spend other people's money.
Mr. Chairman, Congress should end the practice of wasting tax dollars on special interest spending programs that unfairly take money from hard-working families to help profitable private companies pad their bottom line. MAP is a massive corporate welfare program that we should eliminate today.
Finally, in MAP, MAP's proponents have argued that due to recent reforms, big corporations no longer receive MAP funds. It is true that in June 1998, in order to correct some of the more egregious abuses of the MAP, Market Access Program, the Foreign Agricultural Service revised its regulations to limit a company to 5 years of assistance in a particular country. After this 5-year period had expired, companies were to be graduated from the country's market. Translation: These billion-dollar corporations
were no longer to receive tax dollars to fund their product promotions.
So I would strongly urge my colleagues to vote to get rid of this very wasteful program.