POLITICS

Is foreign food aid corporate welfare?

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Politics,Beltway Confidential,Timothy P. Carney

Every time government gets bigger, somebody’s getting rich. That’s not an argument against government programs, but it’s almost always asking “who is getting rich?” or “who would get rich?” from a government program or proposed regulation, tax, or subsidy. One way to figure this out is to follow the money.

Once you figure out who’s paying to advance a government policy, you get a hint as to how the policy may be flawed. With foreign food aid, look to the Made-in-the-U.S.A. rules.

Former USAID director Andrew Natsios made that point last week on PBS:

We proposed that 25 percent of the budget at the time of Title II be used under Food for Peace for local purchase of food aid.

This is not a partisan issue. If President Obama and President Bush both support the same reform, you have to ask the question, who’s opposed to it? Special interest groups are opposed to it. They killed the legislation then and they’re trying to kill it now.

On the program to respond was Ellen Levinson of the Alliance for Global Food Security, who argued that locals are “not prepared at this point to provide the commodities.” Natsios responded “Ellen’s coalition is basically shipping companies and the longshoremen’s union and American farm group interests.”

p.s. Today you can watch more discussion of this issue — should U.S. food aid policies be such the subsidies they are to U.S. producers and unions — in a panel at AEI (where I serve a fellowship).

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