Monkey Business Alert: The Corporation for Travel Promotion

monkeyOur Monkey Business correspondents have got their eyes on our elected officials in Washington, as well.  A doozy of a bill is coming up by the end of the week — HR 4450, TheTravel Promotion, Enhancement, and Modernization Act of 2014.   

What’s this all about? Here’s what the folks at The Club For Growth — an A-OK bunch in my book — have to say about it: 

[..] This bill reauthorizes the Corporation for Travel Promotion (a.k.a. BrandUSA), a slush fund
promoted and administered by companies in the tourism industry that are wrongly using the
taxing authority of the federal government to help finance their profits. Furthermore, this bill
will encourage foreign governments to retaliate with the same protectionist policies that this bill
advances. A far better idea would be to terminate the Corporation for Travel Promotion, and
instead, cut corporate taxes so that the tourism industry has additional resources to promote their
own services. […]

The Corporation for Travel Promotion?  I had no idea there was such an animal.  They’ve got a $125,000,000 budget for FY 2014.  The organization also has a dozen offices around the world.  They operate under the auspices of the US Department of Commerce.  According to the Corporation’s web site, this is its mission: 

The mission of Brand USA is to encourage increased international visitation to the United States and to grow America’s share of the global travel market. In doing so, we aim to bring millions of new international visitors who spend billions of dollars to the United States, creating tens of thousands of new American jobs. 

Increased international visitation?  We’ve already got some seriously increased international visitation going on at our southern border — without ANY help from THESE GUYS. 

Seriously, we need to educate ourselves on these guys and their agenda QUICK.  They describe themselves as a public-private partnership — kind of like the folks getting ready to slap you folks in Mecklenburg County with toll roads.  They claim they cost taxpayers nothing — because their funds come from “private investment” and fees extracted from foreign visitors to the US.  (I hope someone is down on the border shaking down all of those, um, “visitors.”) 

Reading the text of the bill and the corporation’s web site — there are at least two areas of concern for free market and anti-cronyism types.  First, the web site talks about creating “value” for its “partners.” In other words, an agency operating under the auspices of the feds is providing “value” to companies that have the connections to get tied into “Brand USA.”   Second, the bill — HR 4450 — authorizes the Corporation to “determine the fair market value of goods and services.”   NOPE.  That’s the job of Adam Smith’s ”invisible hand.”  Russia and a bunch of countries in eastern Europe tried this committee thing for 40 years or so, and it blew up on them.  China is running away from these kind of committees as fast as they can.  And here we are EMBRACING THEM. 

Surely, the “honorables” from North Carolina and South Carolina had good enough sense to stay away from this.  Well, MOST of them did.  Rice, Wilson and Mulvaney — all Republicans —  from South Carolina are co-sponsors.  (Surprisingly, James Clyburn is nowhere to be found.) Renee Ellmers

FOUR members of the North Carolina delegation signed on to this:  Ellmers, Holding, Coble, and Butterfield.  If you are a Republican, and you find yourself co-sponsoring something with G.K. Butterfield, something is terribly wrong and you NEED to check yourself. 

This “corporation” needs to go away.  Put the co-sponsors on notice that they need to step back from this goody-bag for their US Chamber of Commerce donors.