The International Trade Commission (ITC) was asked by the outgoing Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), an opponent of economic sanctions, to conduct a study on the economic impact of the economic sanctions on Cuba. The study is due September 2015.
ITC analysts and officials concluded in a similar 2001 report that “U.S. economic sanctions with respect to Cuba had a minimal overall historical impact on the U.S. economy,” and logically, also concluded that economic sanctions on Cuba “generally had a minimal overall historical impact on the Cuban economy.” They are entitled to their opinion, even if they are half right. U.S. economic sanctions have had a devastating impact on the Cuban regime.
Frankly, not much has changed since the 2001 Commission investigation was completed. In fact there is a GAO study completed few years later that supports the ITC’s findings in one regard, that U.S. economic sanctions on Cuba are not a drag on the U.S. economy. So why request a new report now? The short answer: Politics and, of course, money. Your money.
The politics stem from fellow travelers in the Congress as well as the Obama Administration who actually believe in the ideological struggles of the Cuban Socialist
Communist experiment. Yes, Cuba is a failed system. Has been for decades. Yet acolytes cling to the hope that it will someday work. Cuba, and the satellites that support her such as Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua, and others, must be defended at all cost.
The economic interests are a little tougher to outline. The sanctions-easing without conditions lobby is a mishmash of special interests including select companies from Big Ag, telecommunications, healthcare, and now high-tech companies. They are lured to easy money, a fire sale. Then when the deals go bad, as assuredly they will, these same companies will come to Uncle Sam asking for help, in addition to writing off business losses on their tax returns.
Most of these companies have no interest in the ideological mornings of the Cuban Revolution. They believe free trade fixes all wrongs. The thing is amigos is that there is no such thing as pure free trade. It does not exist. I’d like to make it so, but I doubt I will see it in my lifetime. And here is the rub about this latest round of sanctions-easing that the pro-Cuba lobby is working to make happen. Some of these Ag interests already receive support from Uncle Sam in the form of federal subsidies and U.S.-backed credit deals. That is your money. They’ll never tell you that, of course.
Big Ag, at the expense of the small family grower, is looking for another bailout, like the one they received in 1987 to a tune of $4 billion. The program is now funded to a tune of close to $300 billion of your tax dollars. Make no mistake about it, this latest push to open the Cuba market is just another example crony capitalism, not free markets. I pray the Congress pushes back, hard.
The Obama Administration should husband political resources on the Hill. Does it really want to risk TPP deal – worth billions in real trade – over an island that offers the United States minimal economic benefit? No matter what the ITC study will say in the Fall, I can assure you, this easing sanctions on Cuba is bad for U.S. growers, especially Florida and other southern regions, bad for U.S. security, bad for regional security, and most importantly, really bad for taxpayers.
Granting Cuba, indeed any nation, access to the U.S. marketplace is a privilege, not a right. Cuba needs to put its political, economic, and legal houses in order before the United States grants it any serious consideration just to sit down and talk about easing sanctions. Yes, you read right. Until the Cuban government evolves from its current troglodytic existence, the United States should not be wasting any time, or U.S. taxpayer monies, in talking or re-opening embassies, much less making it easier for regime leaders to abuses its people.