Syrup subsidy makes congressional debut

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Opinion Zone,Cheryl K. Chumley

High unemployment?  Rising deficits and talk of taxes headed the same direction?  Oh, don’t be silly.  In Congress, much more pressing issues prevail.  Witness Rep. Peter Welch’s (D-Vt.) latest, a multi-million plan to boost maple syrup production across the nation.

“The bill,” reports the National Taxpayers Union, in its most recent Taxpayers’ Tab report, “would establish the Maple Tapping Access Program,” at an “annualized cost of $20 million, [or] $80 million over four years.”

That Welch is from Vermont would explain his affinity for maple syrup, but it doesn’t explain why taxpayers from California or from Texas have to pay - or why $80 million for maple syrup makes even the slightest bit of legislative sense at a time of great American financial distress.  Do the Chinese own stock in syrup?  That, at least, would explain the bill – it’s a quid pro quo.  They take our bad debts; we buy their syrup interests.

Welch’s measure would also allow the Department of Agriculture to “award grants to maple syrup-producing states and tribal governments to promote research, education and natural resource sustainability in the industry,” according to NTU’s summary.  “Federal tax dollars would also be made available to owners and operators of privately held lands with maple trees if they expanded their projection of the syrup or made their land available to public entities for such syrup-producing activities.”

Really? This is where Congress chooses to spend its money, 0r - strike that - America’s money: On syrup, Maple syrup.  The stuff that’s poured on pancakes.

Subsidies for syrup. Next up: Tax breaks for IHOP.  (Oh wait, it's already here.  The Examiner's David Freddoso uncovered the tax dollars gobbled up by an IHOP in DC's booming Columbia Heights neighborhood last year!)

If Welch were acting alone, it would be easy to dismiss his legislative contribution as whimsical, insane even.  But he’s got some highly placed support in the Senate.

“The bill was also introduced in the Senate by Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.),” NTU reports.

Insert ‘groan’ here.

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