Friday, December 27, 2002

Kingfishery and Kingcakery - U.S. Rep. David Vitter (R, La.) has written a Christmas day letter to the editor of The Times-Picayune on the US-Mexican Sugar deal. The letter reads:

I was happy to see The Times-Picayune's Dec. 20 article on the substantive issues surrounding the U.S.-Mexican sugar trade negotiations. Since this is such a complex issue, I feel it is important to elaborate on several key points.

First, while U.S. negotiators had hoped to finalize an agreement by year's end, this is unlikely given that at least four major issues remain unresolved. They are: the ratio of raw to refined sugar that Mexico can import into the United States, how these imports must be spread out throughout the year rather than concentrated in one short period of time, whether Mexico can import cheap sugar from other countries while it exports sugar into the United States, and whether the U.S. sugar industry can employ all of the legal mechanisms normally available to settle future sugar disputes.

Second, the Mexican responses in the ongoing sugar negotiations have gotten slower over the last two months. This brings up the question of whether in fact Mexican political forces are mounting, which could stall or unravel any deal. In addition, the United States has stated that any deal would be contingent on Mexico eliminating its 20 percent tax on corn sweeteners.

Third, I am continuing to work hard with a number of others to make sure the ideas and concerns of the Louisiana sugar industry are fully appreciated. These efforts on the part of many people are yielding at least some limited, positive results. For instance, on Dec. 18, U.S. trade negotiators met with U.S. sugar industry representatives for a detailed briefing.

U.S. Rep. David Vitter

Such clarification and such detail. How does Vitter know so much and why do Louisiana's sugar farmers know so little? This "secret" deal is only now partially coming to light. And we still know very little about the details other than what Vitter and "US trade negotiators" are willing to release. Again, the question remains: Did Bush effectively lie about this secret sugar deal when he denied its existence after Mary Landrieu brought it up during the Louisiana Senate run-off election? Spin it left, spin it right, spin it round and round until we are dizzied by it ... Bush lied. Period.

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