Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Murphy Plans to Scrap the MAP

From the inbox:

Today, Pennsylvania Congressman Patrick Murphy (D-PA, 8th District) and New Jersey Congressman Scott Garrett (R-NJ, 5th District) announced their bipartisan legislation to end the Market Access Program (MAP). Cutting this wasteful corporate giveaway will save American taxpayers $2 billion over 10 years, making good on recommendations from at least six GAO reports. Originally designed to help companies expand markets overseas, the MAP has turned into another corporate welfare program. The vast majority of funding under this program goes to large multi-million dollar conglomerates and trade associations that do not need taxpayer assistance to sell their products internationally. In the past, recipients have included Blue Diamond Growers, Sunkist Growers, the California Table Grape Commission, the National Barley Food Council, and the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute. Since its creation in 1985, the program has repeatedly failed to provide evidence of meeting its mission; despite multiple attempts at reform, it stands today as a prime example of corporate welfare to big business. Millions of dollars under this program go to large multi-million dollar conglomerates and trade associations that do not need taxpayer assistance to sell their products internationally. The program continually funds large and profitable trade associations and cooperatives, and there is little ability to make sure these funds are not supplanting private dollars. Recent egregious examples include:

§ $5.3 million granted to the USA Poultry and Egg Export Council, which includes in its membership such profitable companies as Butterball, Tyson, Wampler and Perdue

§ $8.3 million granted to the U.S. Grains Council, whose membership includes giant corporations such Monsanto, which had over $6.7 billion in profits in 2009

§ $2.1 million granted to Sunkist Growers, Inc, which had over $860.5 million in revenues in 2009

Elimination of the MAP would show that Congress is serious about trimming wasteful spending from the federal budget. The Murphy-Garrett Scrap the MAP Act has been endorsed by the National Taxpayers Union, Taxpayers for Common Sense, and the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste.

“The $2 billion MAP corporate welfare program is a text book example of what is wrong with Washington, and I am proud to team up with my Republican colleague to take on the special interests and eliminate this wasteful spending on behalf of Pennsylvania taxpayers,” said Rep. Patrick Murphy.

“Our country's large national debt is unsustainable. Congress cannot abdicate their responsibility to find solutions to this problem, and cutting spending is a necessary first step. I am pleased to work with Congressman Murphy on this effort, and I hope we can set a bipartisan example for our colleagues to follow,” said Rep. Scott Garrett.

Tom Schatz, President of the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste, said “the Market Access Program (MAP) has been the epitome of corporate welfare and government waste for many years. The nation’s deficit is soaring, yet the federal government continues to dole out tens of millions of dollars annually for advertising and promotion to profitable, private companies. The Council for Citizens Against Government Waste commends Congressmen Patrick Murphy and Scott Garrett for leading the charge against MAP and hopes that all members of Congress will vote in favor of scrapping this profligate program.”

“Corporate welfare like the Market Access Program is all the more offensive when the nation is facing an enormous budget deficit,” said Ms. Ryan Alexander, President of Taxpayers for Common Sense. “Lawmakers should support Representatives Murphy and Garrett’s Scrap the MAP Act and start whittling away the pile of debt facing taxpayers.”

In a letter endorsing the legislation, the National Taxpayers Union stated that the “government loses considerable credibility here and abroad when taxpayers are forced to support unnecessary and economically dubious ventures like the MAP… [i]t is our hope that Congress will act swiftly to abolish some of the most wasteful federal programs that continue to bloat our already overgrown budget, so we can curb spending and reduce our debt. [The Murphy-Garrett] ‘Scrap the MAP Act’ takes us one step closer to reaching these goals.”

The Market Access Program (MAP) is a mandatory spending program authorized in the Farm Bill and administered by the Foreign Services Department of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. It uses funds from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Commodity Credit Corporation to promote the overseas marketing of U.S. agricultural products. MAP funds consumer promotions, market research, trade shows, advertising campaigns, and other programs designed to subsidize the sale of high-value products in foreign markets by private cooperatives, trade associations, and businesses. Since its founding in 1985, MAP has received over $2 billion in taxpayer money and in FY2011 is authorized to spend $200 million.

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