On Friday, the House is scheduled to vote on H.R. 702, a bill which would lift the decades-old embargo on exporting crude oil. Under current law, companies must refine crude oil domestically before they are allowed to export the resulting petroleum products. The policy changes made in H.R. 702 are commendable, but a last minute addition to the bill has entangled good policy in corporate welfare and a $500 million labor union buyoff.
According to the Section-by-Section summary provided by the House Rules Committee, a newly added section would “increase the annual operating stipend for the 60 ship Maritime Security Fleet.” The Maritime Security Program (MSP) was established in 1996 and currently provides contract payments of $3.1 million a year to vessels participating in the program. The program was reauthorized for ten years on January 2, 2013. Last week, 270 Representatives voted for the FY2016 National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 1735), which included the following language:
SEC. 3504. PAYMENT FOR MARITIME SECURITY FLEET VESSELS. (a) PER-VESSEL AUTHORIZATION.—Notwithstanding section 53106(a)(1)(C) of title 46, United States Code, and subject to the availability of appropriations, there is authorized to be paid to each contractor for an operating agreement (as those terms are used in that section) for fiscal year 2016, $3,500,000 for each vessel that is covered by the operating agreement. (emphasis added)
Yesterday, in a speech at Hillsdale College’s Kirby Center, House Budget Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) N/A% expressed his desire to end the Export-Import Bank, which expires at the end of September. Ryan’s primary point though was that conservatives and Republicans should let Democrats be the party of corporate welfare and cronyism:
“My friend Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) 83% has recently launched a great challenge against the crony capitalist economy, and in particular, against one of its manifestations, the Export-Import Bank. But the bank is just one example of how bureaucratic government is corrupting free enterprise through and through. Conservatives must stop defending this. Cronyism is the Progressives’ project for economic control. Let them defend it.”
Conservatives must stop using lazy rhetoric and instead engage in the real policy fight to eliminate cronyism. That’s the message of a piece I co-authored with Sen. Jim DeMint in the Weekly Standard Magazine:
This year’s turbulent primary season, which hit a crescendo this month with David Brat’s upset victory over House majority leader Eric Cantor in the Republican primary for Virginia’s 7th Congressional District, is an opportunity for conservatives to reflect. Why have our political leaders struggled so much to capture the enthusiasm of the conservative grassroots? Why did Republicans fail to win power in the last national election, despite wide distaste for the president’s signature legislation? Is the Tea Party’s agenda the solution to that failure or the problem? To many observers, the answers are both obvious and discouraging: The messages most appealing to the conservative base do not resonate with the general public, and the messages most likely to sway swing voters do little to energize conservatives. The movement is trapped in a double-bind. This view is wrong.
Read the whole thing.
In my Foundry column this week, I argue that the left has a record of voting in favor of corporate welfare, which is often overlooked, and that they should be exposed for their dishonesty on the issue of corporate cronyism:
Though it was reported as news, the left’s 2014 blueprint isn’t novel – it is the same strategy they’ve employed with varying degrees of success for decades. The New York Times providesa helpful summary:
House Democrats are reassessing their electoral strategy based on a major internal research project that shows their candidates stand a better chance when they portray Republicans as unsympathetic to the economic situation of working Americans while protecting the wealthy.
If “protecting the wealthy” is code for corporate welfare, then these so-called strategists may want to check some congressional voting records. America’s political left – from Blue Dog Democrats to radical progressives – tend to be among the most supportive of corporate welfare.
Read the whole column here.
Last week, a minority of House Republicans joined their Democrat colleagues in approving a three-year reauthorization of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC). On the day of the vote, the Congressional Research Services (CRS) released a 23-page report on the taxpayer-backed organization, which included the following:
Over time, Congress has debated the acceptability of federal programs like OPIC that support private sector trade and investment. While OPIC’s goals of economic development through the mobilization of investment may have broad support, there are differing viewpoints on the U.S. economic effects of OPIC’s financing and insurance activities. Economists generally oppose the use of government resources to promote trade or investment abroad. They believe such intervention may distort the flow of capital and resources away from the most efficient uses. They also believe that by promoting investment abroad, OPIC may be crowding out, and thereby reducing, some domestic investment. Some critics also argue that OPIC support is directed towards companies whose overseas investments result in the outsourcing of U.S. jobs. (emphasis added)
Did your Representative vote to crowd out American companies?