Cross-Ranted from The Wild Wild Left, my wild little blog!
I don’t know if you know or not, but the US and Canada have been fighting for quite a while about lumber. It appears that the U.S. has been import overtaxing the hell out of Canadian lumber for a while now and are about to lose another ruling at the World Court for a NAFTA violation about it.
Parts of the deal include:
* Import duties of $4 billion the U.S. charged Canadian companies since 2002 will be returned. But the U.S. keeps $1 billion.
* A seven-year term, with a possible two-year extension.
* A ban on the U.S. launching new trade actions.
* Restrictions on Canadian exports will kick in if prices fall too far.
* Neutral trade arbitrators will provide final and binding settlements of disputes.
Instead they gave it all back to Canada with a Billion Dollar return condition; a billion dollar congressional bypass play.
Guess what the Bushinistas did with that Billion Dollars?
They gave half of it to one firm. A firm of lobbyists for the logging industry.
Since when does the money our government gets paid in taxes, OUR money, get doled out to special interests to lobby back to our government?
With no oversight at all?
Read more Here
The Bush administration agreed to send back to Canada $5 billion collected in tariffs on Canadian timber — but only if the Canadians promised to wire back across the border $1 billion. Of that, $900 million went to American timber interests and nonprofits with close ties to the timber industry. Environmentalists say the deal amounted to an international shell game. The Bush administration and timber interests defend it. Here’s how it was split up:
Coalition for Fair Lumber Imports: $500 million. The timber trade group that launched this round of the lumber war. The World Trade Organization and U.S. Court of International Trade both ruled that it is illegal under international trade law for the United States to pay proceeds of a trade dispute to American industry. U.S. negotiators skirted those rulings, convincing Canadian officials to accomplish the same thing.
Bi-National Council: $50 million. Nonprofit timber trade group was set up to increase the market for timber on both sides of the border. The group’s board of directors is half American, half Canadian. Not required to report its expenditures. At least $1 million of its money went to a timber lobbying group in California, California Forests for the Next Century, which has ties to the California Forestry Association. Bi-National Council co-Chairman Jon Gartman and California Forestry Association President Dave Bischel said the group is organized to get out the industry’s message that using wood is environmentally better than using steel or concrete because it produces much less planet-warming greenhouse gases. California Secretary of State’s Office records show the forestry lobby has been spending money on the same message for several years.
U.S. Endowment for Forestry & Communities: $200 million. Set up in a little over a month, just as the deadline for finalizing the deal approached. Board of directors includes five people in the timber industry, a musician who owns a tree farm, a retired college forestry dean, a sociology professor, and the head of an anti-poverty group. It is to promote educational and charitable causes in timber-reliant communities as well as “projects addressing forest management issues that affect timber-reliant communities, or the sustainability of forests as sources of building materials, wildlife habitat, bio-energy, recreation, and other values,” according to its Web site.
American Forest Foundation: $150 million. The infusion of money ramped up the budget of this longstanding nonprofit geared toward helping owners of small timber plots that make up a large percentage of the industry. Board of directors includes a two timber executives, two forest landowners, a lawyer who represents timber and agricultural interests, three environmentalists and an executive from a packaging corporation that uses a lot of paper. The money boosted its previous endowment of $3 million many times over.
Habitat for Humanity: $100 million. The nonprofit’s construction of homes would help spur demand for American and Canadian lumber, negotiators reasoned.
U.S. Trade Representative: Said it relied for advice on the White House’s Council on Environmental Quality.
White House Council On Environmental Quality: Would not discuss the matter despite repeated requests for comment.
Or give a quick listen (3 min 41 seconds) to NPR’s Story about it.
But all in all, the bottom line is this.
To bypass Congressional appropriation of funds, they gave ALL the money back to Canada, on the condition Canada wired BACK to groups of their choosing 1 billion dollars.
Its fucking illegal.
The Answer, as always?
What the fuck?