Ethanol subsidies continue to take punch after punch in the ring of public opinion. This time it’s the Washington Postthat is getting in on the action.
A staff editorial appeared in Tuesday’s edition of the Post, which pointed out that no matter the reason the subsidies continue to survive, they must end. “The supports must go. Congress has protected ethanol three ways: with a $6 billion-a-year tax subsidy to those who blend it into gasoline, a tariff on competing imports and a mandate that billions of gallons enter Americans’ fuel tanks every year, which come on top of three decades of federal patronage of the industry.”
As the piece goes on, the Post points out there are still ways the subsidies could survive. “Ethanol still seems to have hope in Washington. Somehow, some conservatives are wary of repealing the fuel’s tax subsidies because they could be construed as tax increases,” says the editorial.
In recent weeks ethanol subsidies have continued to survive on shaky ground. In June, the Senate voted to remove the $6 billion handout to the industry by a very wide margin. But because that amendment was attached to another bill that failed passage, the subsidies lived for another day. Most think the subsidies have little hope of surviving the chopping block during the upcoming debt ceiling debate. But factors like the Iowa caucus, fears about eliminating the handout being construed as a tax hike, and the idea that cutting this could lead to the end of oil subsidies have made getting rid of ethanol subsidies harder than it should be.
If ethanol subsidies survive another round, it certainly will because of special interests and straight-up politics, not because of a lack of outcry from major media outlets.