Via today's WSJ
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The rap against former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush in the GOP presidential primaries is that he’s part of a political dynasty that epitomizes business-as-usual in Washington. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, on the other hand, has positioned himself as a young, fresh-faced champion of limited-government conservatism.
But those stereotypes won’t hold if some enterprising debate moderator asks the two Floridians about the hoary U.S. sugar program.
Mr. Bush’s campaign has said he favors phasing it out.
But Mr. Rubio argued in August that it ought to be terminated only when other countries like Brazil “get rid of theirs,” which is to say, never.
There is no economic defense of the sugar program, which every year provides non-recourse loans to sugar processors at a guaranteed price-per-pound.
If the market price is below the guarantee when they want to sell, the processors simply dump the crop on the U.S. Department of Agriculture as the loan repayment. To avoid that outcome, the USDA holds sugar prices artificially high by imposing tariffs on imports above an annual quota. The result is that Americans pay about twice what the rest of the world pays for sugar.
* THANK YOU, MR. RUBIO!
The Coalition for Sugar Reform, which includes businesses that use sugar, says that for every U.S. sugar-growing job "saved" from high U.S. sugar prices, about three American manufacturing jobs are lost. The U.S. candy industry has been hollowed out as companies have fled to places like Guatemala and Thailand where they can remain competitive by buying sugar at world-market prices.
Mr. Rubio explains his support with the last refuge of protectionist scoundrels — national security. If the U.S. opens the market for sugar, he says, “other countries will capture the market share, our agricultural capacity will be developed into real estate,” and “then we lose the capacity to produce our own food, at which point we’re at the mercy of a foreign country for food security.”
So let’s see: If Americans don’t pay double the world price for sugar, Pepe Fanjul will sell his sugar acreage to home builders, who will pave over Florida and put us at risk of extortion from . . . Brazil?
* BY THE WAY... GOOGLE "PEPE FANJUL."
This national security line doesn’t hold up for rare-earth minerals from China used for national defense, much less a basic farm commodity.
Mr. Rubio knows this, but he’s also close to Florida’s biggest sugar producers.
One of the largest campaign contributors over his career has been Florida Crystals, which is a...
* SAY IT WITH ME, FOLKS...
...Fanjul family company.
On this issue Mr. Rubio is allied not with the tea party but with Sen. Al Franken (D., Minn), the progressive hero who fronts for wealthy sugar-beet interests.
Mr. Rubio has many talents, but one trait the presidential campaign has exposed is a tendency to hedge on his principles when he thinks it’s politically beneficial.