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Spinning a False Argument about U.S. Sugar Prices



It’s an old inside-the-beltway/Washington, DC trick. You take a statement or position on an issue and extrapolate it to support for something else completely unrelated.

Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz did this recently to Donald Trump over Planned Parenthood.

He took Trump’s support for some of the things PP does for women’s health, such as breast cancer screenings, and twisted that into a false claim that Trump supported partial birth abortions and the selling of baby parts.

Congressman Joe Pitts and former Congressman David McIntosh did exactly the same thing in a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed calling for the end of the U.S. sugar program (“Your Funny Valentine Candy Pricing,” 2/11/16).

In it, the pair claimed the cost of a heart-shaped box of chocolates is more expensive today because of import limits and tariffs on artificially cheap, government-subsidized foreign sugar.

They went on to maintain that the cost of domestic sugar was the reason for candy-makers moving their manufacturing operations to other countries.

That’s called spin. It’s also called intellectually dishonest.

Because what the duo neglected to mention was that while the cost of candy has, indeed, skyrocketed over the last three decades, the cost of a pound of U.S.-produced sugar is, well, right about the same.

Which means if companies are moving their operations overseas or across the border it’s for reasons other than the cost of sugar.

In fact, those reasons include the skyrocketing labor and benefit costs, government mandates, government regulations and government taxes.

Look, I’m all for eliminating the U.S. sugar program, too. But only once foreign competitors eliminate theirs so that everyone is playing by the same rules. Zero government subsidies in simultaneous exchange for zero government subsidies.

In the meantime, if Mr. Pitts and Mr. McIntosh want to really do something to make operating here in the U.S. more enticing, they might focus on eliminating some overly-burdensome labor, regulatory and taxation laws instead of the comparatively minor cost of a spoonful of American sugar.