If misdirection is a magician's greatest skill, the US Senate is a veritable house of Houdinis today. As the media spotlight burned brightest on Anthony Weiner, a large majorty of Senators voted to end billions of dollars in federal support to America's ethanol industry -- subsidies that many conservatives have long lambasted as wasteful:
The Senate voted 73 to 27 on Thursday to wipeout billions of dollars in support for the U.S. ethanol industry. The Senate approved an amendment to end the 45-cent-a-gallon subsidy the government gives refiners and the 54-cent-per-gallon tariff on imported ethanol from Brazil and other countries.
On Tuesday the Senate fell far short of the 60 votes needed on a similar amendment that would have stripped the industry of some $6 billion a year in support. The Senate voted 59 to 40 against limiting debate on the measure from Republican Tom Coburn. The ethanol subsidy amendment on Thursday from Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein and Coburn will be tacked on to an underlying economic development bill, which faces a difficult time passing the Senate.
The conservative Club for Growth is elated:
“Senators who voted to repeal ethanol subsidies today took a pro-growth step towards ridding the tax code of market-distorting tax credits and subsidies,” said Club for Growth President Chris Chocola. “Senator Coburn deserves tremendous praise for his leadership on this issue. Big Ethanol’s days are numbered.”
Despite his recent tangles with Sen. Coburn, ATR's Grover Norquist has blessed the deal, saying that it doesn't violate his group's tax pledge because it will be coupled with a vote on an offsetting tax reduction proposal by Sen. Jim DeMint.