CORPORATIONS SHOULD PAY THEIR FAIR SHARE In the aftermath of 9/11 it has been well documented that a severe lack of security at the nation's seaports makes them highly vulnerable to terrorism. Congress responded by drafting a comprehensive port security bill, which now lingers in congressional bill purgatory. The biggest factor holding up this security plan is the issue of who will foot the multi-billion dollar bill for this important measure.
User Fees Are Just And Make Sense
Here is a news update from Taxpayers for Common Sense. TCS is the best organization that monitors excessive government spending, corruption and corporate welfare.
The threat to our nation's seaports was uncannily illustrated last summer in a Hollywood movie that presents a nightmare scenario in which terrorists smuggle a nuclear bomb into the Port of Baltimore with the aim of blowing up a nearby stadium during the Super Bowl. Fortunately, the movie was fiction, but the risks of weapons of mass destruction being smuggled into the country via shipping container are very real.
In light of the seaport security vulnerabilities that have been exposed, earlier this year the House and Senate each passed versions of the Port and Maritime Security bill, setting national security standards and authorizing funds to pay for it. However, when Congress adjourned last week, the bill was still stalled in a House-Senate conference committee. Negotiators reached an impasse over a proposal to raise $300 million per year to finance the new security measures through a fee to port users.
The establishment of user fees is a common sense method of covering the costs of increased security without making the nation's taxpayers pick up the total tab. The proposed system would be similar to the nominal amount that is now being tacked onto the price of airline tickets to help defray the costs of increased airport security. The port user fees would be applied to all cargo that passes through the nation's ports. The amount of the fee would vary depending upon the risk posed by the materials shipped.
For example, the additional cost to the Nike Corporation for shipping an entire container of 10,000 sneakers would be a mere $15 -– or less than ten percent of the retail value of a single pair of Air Jordans. Not surprisingly, Nike and a handful of other deep-pocketed corporate interests are vociferously opposing the establishment of a user fee, with typical chicken-little arguments of economic doom.
The shipping industry's reluctance to help pay for the costs of seaport security is yet another example of corporations expecting the nation's taxpayers to subsidize their costs of doing business. With the return to federal deficits and a $38 billion budget for programs related to homeland security, it is incumbent upon lawmakers to establish ways to fund these programs without busting the budget.
Unfortunately, key House Republicans, led by Transporation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Don Young (R-AK), preferred to go home and campaign for the elections rather resolve the user fee issue. Their refusal to budge gives the impression that saving a few pennies for Nike is more important than ensuring that our nation's ports are secure from terrorist threats. Congress needs to stop kowtowing to industry desires and make passage of this legislation a priority upon their return after the elections.
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
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