Congress’ Vote On Ethanol Subsidies Will Indicate Their Seriousness On Deficit Reduction
Ethanol subsidies were conspicuously missing from the deficit commission report, and now an extension and expansion of those subsidies have been attached to Obama’s deal on the Bush tax cuts being debated by Congress now.
The debate about the subsidies, from both Republicans and Democrats, will indicate just how serious they truly are when it comes to deficit reduction.
Earlier this month President Barack Obama’s deficit reduction commission submitted its report. The commission recommended tax increases and spending cuts on items including national defense, the federal workforce, and Medicare/Medicaid. Nowhere in the report was there a mention of ending the ludicrous ethanol subsidy. What does it say about the hold the corn and ethanol industries have on government when our deficit commission can recommend cuts in national defense and Medicare and say nothing about ending ethanol spending?
This, this … oversight? … could be because one of the 18 commission members was one of the biggest champions of the ethanol boondoggle: Sen. Kent Conrad (D-North Dakota). He has teamed with Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) to lead the fight to extend the ethanol subsidies.
Iowa and the Dakotas do have lots of corn being grown. But they also have lots of other farmers who use corn as food for chickens, pigs, and steers, and who are seeing prices for their animal feed climb as a result of the diversion of corn to ethanol production. They also have voters who get hungry each day and who are paying higher prices on the food they eat as a result of the ethanol boondoggle. So do lawmakers all across the country.
So the question is: Will lawmakers stand with the vast majority of their constituents and end a subsidy that causes people to spend more on food and energy than they should be spending? Or will they stand with a handful of grain farmers and corporations that reap billions of dollars annually by producing a product that has virtually none of the benefits we were promised when the subsidy was first enacted?
If the politicians can’t muster up the political courage to challenge ethanol subsidies, what hope do we have for other politically difficult spending cuts?Tags: deficits, ethanol subsidies, Kent Conrad, national debt