WRONG AXE, MR. PRESIDENT
Logging Scandal -- Corporate Welfare Queens Get Paid to Seize Public Resources
Here is a news update from Taxpayers for Common Sense. TCS is the best organization that monitors excessive government spending, corruption and corporate welfare.
For three years straight, we have been hootin' and hollerin' about how important it is for President Bush to pull out the budget axe and cut wasteful spending. Well, on the eve of Christmas Eve, the administration decided to use an axe; but it was the wrong one.
Late on December 23rd, while the majority of American's were focused on last minute gift buying and spreading the holiday joy, the Department of Agriculture announced that 300,000 acres of the Tongass National Forest would be exempted from the federal rule limiting taxpayer subsidies for private logging-road-building in national forests. Two things can be surmised from the timing of this announcement:
But, the folks at the United States Department of Agriculture took extra care to obscure the Tongass announcement. In an obvious attempt to further distract the American public, they buried it at the very end of the press release announcing the first case of Mad Cow disease in our nation. Get Americans to freak out about a scary brain wasting disease and surely they won't care about paying tens of millions of dollars to pave the timber industry's way through the forest.
Pardon the pun, but our beef with the Tongass decision is that taxpayers are already paying and will continue to pay timber companies to relieve us of the most valuable and profitable trees in the nation. Subsidies to timber companies defy every principle of fiscal responsibility, yet the Bush administration wants to keep squandering millions on the biggest money-losing forest in the nation.
A recent study found that the Forest Service lost more than $34.8 million on the Tongass timber program in 2002, collecting revenues of just $1.2 million from the forest companies. Road building subsidies alone in this forest cost taxpayers $23 million between 1998 and 2001, creating an infrastructure that has 10 times more miles than the Indy 500 and a maintenance backlog that will cost us more than $800 million.
This fiscally misguided decision further demonstrates that this administration will put the political will and financial interests of the timber industry, Alaska's governor, and Sen. Ted Stevens (chairman of the Senate appropriations committee) in front of the financial well-being of U.S. taxpayers. This decision to exempt the Tongass from the Roadless rule guarantees that this forest will remain the biggest giveaway to timber companies in the nation.
It looks as if our spell to get the President to cut the budget deficit has conjured up the wrong axe. Instead of relieving our long-term deficit woes, this axe is going to increase them!
For more information, contact Keith Ashdown at (202)-546-8500 ext. 110
or by email at email@example.com
TCS is at www.taxpayer.net
U.S. Taxpayers Pay to Have Their National Forests Logged, Depleted
Corporate Welfare Handouts to Private Timber Companies
Timber Industry Evading Natural Resource Rents
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