Thursday, June 16, 2011

Senate Votes Overwhelmingly to Repeal Ethanol Subsidies That Senate Voted Overwhelming Not to Repeal – Confused?

Well You Won’t Be After Today’s Episode of “Idiots in Washington

Two days ago the Senate of the United States voted 59 to 40 to keep government subsidies for the ethanol industry.  The Dismal Political Economist explained the vote and the complications around it.

On Thursday the Senate voted 73 to 27 to remove the subsidies for the ethanol industry.  The Washington Post reported the story this way.

The vote came just two days after the Senate rejected a bid by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) to end the ethanol tax credit. That vote was seen as a test of Democrats’ loyalty to Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) and of Republicans’ fealty to a no-tax pledge when measured against cutting a government subsidy. But Coburn mustered just 40 votes, nearly all of them Republicans, as Democrats withheld their support for what they said were procedural reasons.


The Renewable Fuels Association said in a statement, “We are disappointed in the shortsightedness of this vote, particularly as this same body voted less than one month ago to preserve billions of dollars in taxpayer handouts to the oil industry.” The RFA, which represents the nation’s ethanol distilleries, added that since “the underlying bill to which this amendment is attached is unlikely to make it to the president’s desk, this vote was a freebie with no real consequences.”

So why the two votes?  Repeal of the subsidies is popular, it is a blow, albeit a small one against the deficit, it gets government out of one subsidy  activity it has no business being in and it send the message that maybe, just maybe Washington isn’t doing business as usual.  However Repeal goes against the anti-tax people, (We know, sounds crazy but it does, see the link above) and the subsidy/protection program has support in farming states.  So as the quote from the WP above makes clear, the underlying bill will not become law, and the two votes enable a Senator to say he was for repeal to folks that support repeal, and against repeal to those who were against repeal.

The President supports retaining the subsidies and protection, apparently unwilling to surrender the mantle of pandering to voters to Republicans.  The President sends a strong message to the world, but unfortunately that message is

Yes we know much of the world is short of food and that many people including a lot of children go to bed hungry, but it is more important the we in the U. S. can drive to the mall a little bit cheaper to buy those designer clothes than for you to have adequate nutrition.

Yep, pretty powerful message.

No comments:

Post a Comment