• Jun 14, 2011
Earlier today, the United States Senate rejected an amendment that would have put an end to the $6 billion in tax breaks and subsidies for producers of corn-based ethanol.
Introduced by Senator Tom Coburn (R-Oklahoma), the amendment was unable to martial the 60 votes needed to end debate in the Senate, failing in a 40-in-favor, 59-against procedural vote as members of both parties joined in opposition to the measure.

Coburn, considered by most as a conservative Republican, framed the elimination of ethanol subsidies as a way to slash the nation's deficit. Coburn stated:
Eliminating the ethanol tax earmark and tariff would be a big step toward restoring fiscal sanity in Washington. Ethanol is bad economic policy, bad energy policy and bad environmental policy.
On Coburn's side were environmental advocates who have long questioned the ecological benefit of ethanol, claiming that it simply takes too much energy to produce the corn-based fuel.

In opposition stood the Americans for Tax Reform (ATR), a group headed by conservative Grover Norquist. The ATR lobbied against the amendment on grounds that the elimination of a tax break should only be considered if it's offset by tax cuts.

The federal ethanol tax subsidy, currently at 45 cents a gallon, is set to expire on December 31, 2011. This failed amendment would have put an end to the subsidy almost immediately.


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  • 33 Comments
      Adamnski
      • 3 Years Ago
      We are taking corn out of our food supply driving up the price to feed animals that we eat. Then we sell it to China (they are willing to pay more) or put it in our gas tank. Then our cars get worse mpg's and we need to fill the tank more often. And yet we still subsides the farmers, I live in Nebraska so every place you go has the stupid ethanol at the pump. Always in search of 93+
      BrianP
      • 3 Years Ago
      Costs more to produce the ethanol in energy (oil) than it produces in energy. Typical political shill - sounds good to the masses, but doesn't pencil out with the accountants. It's a corporate entitlement for which we are paying, folks.
      htay9500
      • 3 Years Ago
      Ethanol for fuel is stupid. I want corn on my plate, not in my gas tank.
      Polly Prissy Pants
      • 3 Years Ago
      "The ATR lobbied against the amendment on grounds that the elimination of a tax break should only be considered if it's offset by tax cuts." Say whut?!? So we shouldn't eliminate wrongheaded, wasteful government subsidies unless the government gives them tax breaks (???) to offset the loss of the subsidy? I must be reading that wrong or something. That surely can't be the logical, rational stance of a group called Americans for Tax Reform, whoever they are. Maybe they meant to say the American Corn Growers Association?
        P
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Polly Prissy Pants
        Nope. You read that correctly. They are 100% bought and paid for by industrial interests, as most politicians are but especially the Republicans. (Save your breath folks, I AM a Republican...or was.)
          nardvark
          • 3 Years Ago
          @P
          Corporations gave more to democrats in the last presidential election. Corporations don't care which party you're from, they just back the horse they expect to win, so they can get their kickback after you're elected.
        BC
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Polly Prissy Pants
        Because by Norquists's logic it is a tax increase, and he opposes all tax increases. And supports tax cuts no matter what their effect on the debt. Also, remember Coburn represents a state where oil production is more important than agriculture. Most farm states are still represented by Republicans, and most of them only oppose subsidies that benefit constituents of Democrats, not their own.
      rgee01
      • 3 Years Ago
      Big Corn should be opposed at every turn in this country. They have done us irreparable harm. This latest development is just sad.
      kevsflanagan
      • 3 Years Ago
      I wish it passed and the subsides for Ethanol would go away. It force's farmers to decide on either creating corn for food stock or corn for feed stock. The difference is that feed stock is what is used to create ethanol and hence the price is marked up. This cause's other farm owners to pay more for the feed. This feed is what well they feed to their cows and other animals. Its a giant domino effect that is not good for our economy. Elimination of the subsides would allow farmers to freely chose which type of stock they grow and allow ethanol to either die away or floorish. Plus as others have stated in the past the way they use to produce ethanol is not worth the eventual offset in polution it may cause with our cars.
      • 3 Years Ago
      [blocked]
        AnonymousOne
        • 3 Years Ago
        This has to be one of the most ignorant things I think I've ever read...
        Olsparkee
        • 3 Years Ago
        Hey fordinsight, ask yourself whether it’s better to burn corn as a hugely inefficient fuel vs feeding people. Then ask yourself if you have ever seen anyone try to make money by selling things that other people actually want as opposed to being mandated by a central planning organization... If ethanol made sense as a fuel, it would not need to be subsidized multiple times during the process. When wind, solar and unicorn farts can power the world without bancrupting it, they will be put into the pipeline without a massive collectivist mandate. Until then, why don't you go back to pulling your ponytail back, banging your little drum and chanting "Hey Hey, Hoe, Hoe, Greedy Unions Gotta Go!"
      mjam
      • 3 Years Ago
      Even if the country's ENTIRE corn crop were converted to ethanol, it would be WHOLLY insufficient to satisfy our oil energy demands...not even 10% This is an example of Washington at its finest. What an embarrassment.
      ALafya
      • 3 Years Ago
      While Ethanol fuel, which is *not* made from Corn, makes sense, the subsidy does not make sense at all, especially if it makes Ethanol makers use Corn. Corn is not an efficient nor good source for Ethanol.
        Olsparkee
        • 3 Years Ago
        @ALafya
        Sorry ALafya, "The two scientists calculated all the fuel inputs for ethanol production—from the diesel fuel for the tractor planting the corn, to the fertilizer put in the field, to the energy needed at the processing plant—and found that ethanol is a net energy-loser. According to their calculations, ethanol contains about 76,000 BTUs per gallon, but producing that ethanol from corn takes about 98,000 BTUs. For comparison, a gallon of gasoline contains about 116,000 BTUs per gallon. But making that gallon of gas—from drilling the well, to transportation, through refining—requires around 22,000 BTUs. In addition to their findings on corn, they determined that making ethanol from switch grass requires 50 percent more fossil energy than the ethanol yields, wood biomass 57 percent more, and sunflowers 118 percent more. The best yield comes from soybeans, but they, too, are a net loser, requiring 27 percent more fossil energy than the biodiesel fuel produced. In other words, more ethanol production will increase America's total energy consumption, not decrease it. (Pimentel has not taken money from the oil or refining industries. Patzek runs the UC Oil Consortium, which does research on oil and is funded by oil companies. His ethanol research is not funded by the oil or refining industries*.) " http://www.slate.com/id/2122961/
      MacProMan
      • 3 Years Ago
      super lame, way to go politicians! If ever I get an opportunity to vote out a politician that favors ethanol, be sure I will you jack asses
      tbyron
      • 3 Years Ago
      If they were serious about energy subsidies and fiscal health, rather than making political points, they would not pick favorites. They should propose a complete overhaul of all energy-related subsidies. Ethanol is only one. Many billions every year go to the oil industry, nuclear, solar, wind, and so forth. Additionally, there are regulations designed to protect utilities (the feed-in tariffs that determine how much they pay for distributed energy sources like industrial co-gen, residential and commercial solar systems, etc.
      DontTrustPoliticians
      • 3 Years Ago
      If these politicians are serious about cutting spending, corporate subsidies should be cut as well as entitlements. Otherwise, they're just blowing smoke up our arses (as usual)...
        Olsparkee
        • 3 Years Ago
        @DontTrustPoliticians
        DTP, exactly what is the difference between farm subsidies and corporate subsidies? Potato / Potatoe
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