Inside Opinion

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Tag: ethanol


Congress should finish the job of defunding Big Corn

Corn will be processed into ethanol. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

This editorial will appear in Thursday’s print edition.

Doubts about corn ethanol are finally translating into votes in Congress.
The U.S. Senate last week voted 73-27 to repeal a $5 billion tax credit for refiners who blend ethanol into their gasoline.

Don’t hold your breath waiting for the $5 billion to return to the public purse. The measure was an amendment to a bill that’s doomed in the Senate, but the lopsided approval margin shows that Republicans and Democrats alike are getting fed up with a particularly appalling form of corporate welfare.

Presidential candidates and Corn Belt politicians want to stay on the good side of heartland agribusiness; their solicitude has resulted in astounding subsidies that industry doesn’t need and the nation can’t afford.

There’s the $5 billion we lose on the 45-cent-a-gallon tax credits for refiners. There’s also a 54-cent tariff on imported biofuels, which effectively prevents Brazil for selling us ethanol it refines from sugar cane, a cheaper source than corn. The Senate voted last week to kill that turkey as well. Read more »


The federal empire: Who made this mess, anyway?

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

If there’s one agency of the federal government that distinguishes itself in the stewardship of tax money, it’s the Government Accountability Office.

At the direction of Congress – good move, lawmakers – the nonpartisan GAO has just delivered its first annual report on duplication and other inefficiencies in the far-flung federal empire. Much of the information has long been public, but now for the first time we have a single, 340-page that tells the story in all its baroque detail.

It would take this entire page to summarize the overlaps and fragmentation the GAO found in the nation’s mushroom farm of federal programs. A few examples:

• Congress doubled down last year on its politically driven efforts to prop up the dubious ethanol industry by giving it $5.4 billion-a-year worth of tax credits. The GAO said the federal fuel standard already guarantees a market for farm-state ethanol producers; the annual cost of this needless giveaway is projected to rise to $6.75 billion a year in 2015.
Read more »