Governmental Affairs Holds Corporate Welfare Hearing

Washington, DC–“It is a matter of fairness and shared sacrifice that we require no less of profit-making enterprises than we ask of all Americans,” Senate Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Fred Thompson (R-TN) said today as he opened a hearing on legislation (S.207) that would create a commission to address government programs which provide some corporations with unfair subsidies or tax benefits.

The Corporate Subsidy Reform Commission Act establishes criteria for reviewing corporate subsidies. It addresses programs and tax policies whose primary beneficiaries are profit-making enterprises, and which provide a public benefit that is less than the cost of the program to taxpayers. And it addresses policies and programs which provide an unfair competitive advantage or financial windfall.

Under the measure, the Administration’s annual budget would include recommendations to the Commission for terminating or reforming these programs. The President would review the Commission’s final recommendations and offer any suggested changes. Congress then would have four months to review and act on the recommendations.

The bipartisan legislation is sponsored by Senator John McCain (R-AZ), Thompson, Senator Russell D. Feingold (D-WI), Senator John Glenn (D-OH) and Senator John F. Kerry (D-MA) among others.

Thompson said that “our experience last Congress demonstrated that voting hit or miss on individual items is not going to be successful. One person’s pork is another person’s prize. And no one wants to give up their prize program if there isn’t shared sacrifice.

“The commission’s recommendations,” Thompson said, “will not be buried in the corner of a federal agency or Congressional committee. It is a matter of fairness and shared sacrifice that we require no less of profit-making organizations than we ask of all Americans. At a time when the national debate is focused on getting control of the budget, now and in the future, we cannot afford to provide corporate subsidies which undermine our efforts and which distort the free market. Enactment of this legislation will demonstrate that Congress and the Executive Branch are serious about correcting a system which the American public as a whole sees as benefiting the few with access and influence, rather than serving the general public good.”