They Can’t Even Pull off the Ethanol Subsidy Repeal …

Lynne Kiesling

Although the federal government is actually in a budget crisis and our elected so-called representatives claim to be dealing with it, they are acting rather like they are in denial, or still embroiled in such petty partisan bickering that they refuse to make difficult choices with short-run costs and long-run benefits.

Take ethanol subsidies and tariff protections, on which the KP position for years has been for their elimination on both economic and environmental grounds. Now that even Al Gore admits that they were a mistake and have not delivered on lower emissions, lower use of fossil fuels, lower gasoline prices, and lower oil imports, can’t we finally just vote them off the island?

Apparently not. Yesterday the Senate had an opportunity to end the $6 billion in annual ethanol subsidies, which would take a nice chunk out of the budget deficit and chip away at the national debt; it would also provide a salutary psychological message to the American public that our elected so-called representatives are not as feckless as they appear.

Yet they failed to do so. If they cannot make a decision that is as patently obvious as this one, will they be able to decide on anything that will bring the budget away from the brink? If they can’t end ethanol subsidies, that does not portend well for avoiding default.

4 thoughts on “They Can’t Even Pull off the Ethanol Subsidy Repeal …

  1. For a look at the voting:

    Dem’s opposed, 45 against to 5 in favor; Republicans favored 39 in support to 13 in opposition; Independent split 1-1, and 1 not voting.

    Generally the 13 GOP no votes are farm state republicans, the 5 Dem. yes votes seem a mix of fiscal conservatives and one pro-environment anti-ethanol vote (Cantwell).

    The Democratic leadership claimed to oppose the procedural mechanism by which Coburn brought the issue to a vote and urged opposition to it on procedural grounds. So a Dem. has cover to vote against the repeal on procedural grounds. Some Dems also complained that a recent attempt to repeal oil industry tax breaks failed, so were opposed to a measure that targeted renewable energy tax breaks.

    Americans for Tax Reform opposed removal of a tax break without an offsetting tax cut elsewhere (voting in favor of a separate proposal sponsored by Sen. DeMint was one approach, though no guarantee that DeMint’s proposal would reach the floor). ATR’s position provides a fig leaf for GOP senators wanting to vote against it.

    Plenty of excuses (and organized special interest lobbying) to oppose the proposal and only common sense and solid analysis in favor of the proposal: it is surprising they could come up with 40 votes!

  2. Mike,

    Your cynicism is oozing through the cracks. 🙂

    The US Congress, under the “inspired leadership” of Harry Pelosi and Nancy Reid, failed to adopt the constitutionally required budgets for FY 2010 & FY 2011 for the US fe(de)ral government. The US Senate, still under the “inspired leadership” of Nancy Reid, has been presented with a proposed fe(de)ral budget for FY 2012 , by the US House of Representatives, but has refused to consider that proposed budget or propose a budget of its own.

    Against this backdrop, it is not difficult to understand why simple decisions regarding federal incentive programs cannot be dealt with either. There is simply no interest in the Senate Democratic caucus or the Administration for spending cuts.

    It appears that the “wave” which washed through the House last fall must finish the job in the Senate next year if we are to begin the process of restoring fiscal sanity.

    It is no wonder that the debt ceiling issue is tied to assured spending cuts. The House would be certifiably insane to rely on assurances of spending reductions from Nancy Reid and the Administration.

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