The Corner

Hooked on Sugar Subsidies

The Washington Post ran a good story about how sugar subsidies persist notwithstanding the absence of any plausible argument — liberal, conservative, or otherwise — in their favor. The basic answer, I think, is that while the costs of these subsidies outweigh the benefits those costs are also more concentrated: The beneficiaries care about the policy more than the losers. The article ends with a quote from Representative Ted Yoho (R., Fla.), who is normally part of the more-principled-than-thou caucus: “I ran on limited government, fiscal responsibility and free enterprise, but when you’ve got programs that have been in place and it’s the accepted norm, to just go in there and stop it would be detrimental to our sugar growers.” Of course it’s going to be “detrimental” to recipients of unjustified subsidies to lose them. That’s a “principle” by which you could never repeal, roll back, or reform anything. The whole Florida delegation is terrible on this issue, including Senator Marco Rubio.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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