On her official website, Senator Heidi Heitkamp is patting herself on the back for standing up to “special interests” on the floor of the Senate today. Heitkamp was arguing against amendments which would have ended trade protectionism for the sugar industry which keeps the price of sugar inflated by both controlling production to keep prices high and restricting access to foreign-produced sugar.
So the “special interests” Heitkamp is protecting against is, apparently, the American consumer who must pay higher prices for sugar.
“U.S. sugar policy defends more than 142,000 jobs in 22 states by defending our producers from unfair foreign competition,” said Heitkamp during her floor comments. “We grow and process a lot of sugar beets in the Red River Valley. Like many rural communities, sugar is the lynchpin of the local economy. If we bend to the proposed amendments, we will lose our domestic sugar industry. We can’t compete when the playing field is not level.”
So, in summary, the policy Senator Heitkamp is defending keeps prices inflated, enriching sugar producers, while simultaneously protecting them from competition. All that the expense of American shoppers. But we’re supposed to believe that Heitkamp isn’t on the side of special interests.
Again, even as Heitkamp is backing protectionism for actual special interests, she’s claiming she’s fighting special interests.
In related news, Senator John Hoeven isn’t much better on the issue. Despite the sugar program running up the price of sugar, he describes it as running “at zero cost to the American taxpayers.”
There’s a cost alright. Not in direct subsidies, but certainly in higher prices resulting from a protected market. But hey, whatever is best for Big Sugar, right?