An article today in Congress Daily [$] made me laugh out loud. In a “Geez, these people have some nerve” kind of way.
A bunch of politicians have written to Obama, saying that Airbus should be disqualified from the current bidding process for the Air Force refueling tanker contract on the grounds that the World Trade Organization has reportedly (the final ruling is not yet out) ruled EU subsidies to Airbus illegal. Here’s part of their letter:
Buying Airbus tankers would reward European governments with Department of Defense dollars at the same time that the U.S. Trade Representative is trying to punish European governments for flouting international laws… American taxpayers must not be forced to foot the bill for products which benefited from illegal subsidies.
As I wrote to my colleagues when the news came over email, I wonder if those same politicians (authors, by the way, of the auto bailout and cash-for-clunkers) will be as indignant about subsidized companies if/when Boeing’s subsidies, currently being examined in a counter-challenge at the WTO, are ruled illegal. And how about all those illegal cotton subsidies that the United States doles out? Should taxpayers be footing the bill for storing cotton (scroll down, under “Commodity Certificates”)?
In any case, while I feel sorry for the taxpayers who pay for them, foreign subsidies are a gift to the U.S. consumer. The bill that American taxpayers are being “forced to foot” is smaller than it otherwise would be because of the corporate welfare flowing to Airbus. (Note to the libertarian purity police: I’m not advocating for corporate welfare here, just noting the other side of the economic ledger).