U.S. to pay Brazil $147 million a year

Patrick Gibbons

The U.S. government imposes tariffs and subsidies on cotton worth over $3 billion each year. This allows American cotton farmers to remain competitive (or at least avoid upgrading capital to remain competitive) by forcing American consumers to pay more for cotton and everything made from cotton.

America’s unfair trade practices led to a suit by the country of Brazil, which won permission from the World Trade Organization to impose retalitory tariffs on U.S. goods. To avoid retaliation (and ticking off other entrenched special interests) President Obama agreed to pay Brazil $147 million every year after it won a suit against the United States in the World Trade Organization over our anti-free trade cotton policy.

So not only do American consumers have to pay $3 billion extra a year for cotton, we taxpayers also have to pay Brazil $147 million to do nothing for us at all. Our government’s opposition to free trade isn’t about helping poor Americans or social justice. It is about defending wealthy special interests at the expense of everyone else.

To quote the great 19th Century American poet Walt Whitman:

“The spirit of the tariff is malevolent. It flies in the face of all American ideals. I hate it root and branch. It helps a few rich men to get rich, it helps the great mass of poor men to get poorer. I am for free trade because I am for anything that will break down the barriers between peoples. I want to see the countries all wide open.”