HUGE RNC SALE: 60% Off VIP Membership - Ends Today!
Here's the Part of the Republican Convention That MSNBC Didn't Want to Show...
One Dem Aide Described the Party's 2024 Chances in Two Words
Nancy Pelosi Reportedly Took the Gloves Off to Push Joe Biden Out of...
It Looks Like Bill Maher May Be Right About Biden
New Battleground Polling Conducted After Trump Assassination Attempt Has Dropped
Biden Would Consider Dropping Out If...
Reid: Biden Recovering From COVID Is 'Exactly the Same' As Trump Surviving Assassination...
Musk Warned Newsom This Would Happen if He Signed AB 1955, and Now...
The Significance of Nikki Haley's RNC Speech
Reflections on the 30th Anniversary of the AIMA Bombing
Here’s What Joe Scarborough Now Says About Biden Staying in the Race
Is This It for Biden? New Report Hints at When the President Will...
Investigators Found This Message From Trump's Would-Be Assassin on Gaming Platform Before...
There's Been an Update on the Vice Presidential Debate
OPINION

Feinstein vs. Coburn-Feinstein

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

On Tuesday, the Senate voted 40-59 against an amendment by Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., to end the annual $6 billion (45-cents-per-gallon) tax subsidy for ethanol, as well as the 54-cents-per-gallon tariff on imported ethanol.

Advertisement

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., was a co-author of the Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit Repeal Act. As she explained, the subsidy bestows $15 million per day on large oil companies for "no good reason" and drives up food prices.

Yet Tuesday, Feinstein voted against her own amendment.

Feinstein explained to reporters that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid promised her a vote on a similar amendment. That vote is scheduled for today. She voted against her own measure "because of the process that Coburn used." Coburn switched legislative language to win a floor vote that had been stalled. Party-line Dems who voted against the bill played enforcer.

Problem: Unlike Feinstein, six senators in the Democratic caucus voted for the amendment.

Beltway types have focused on the fact that 33 GOP senators joined Coburn to battle the conservative Americans for Tax Reform. ATR had painted Coburn-Feinstein as a tax increase. (When you end a tax credit, net federal revenue rises.) But the other story here is the Democrats' love of big government spending, even when the money lands in oil company coffers.

Advertisement

The ethanol subsidy is a corporate-welfare bonanza. It started out with good intentions -- promoting energy independence in an environmentally friendly fashion. Thirty years later, Americans are more dependent on foreign oil, and the Sierra Club and League of Conservation Voters want to end ethanol subsidies.

Feinstein is acutely aware that 40 percent of the U.S. corn crop goes to ethanol. She visited the San Joaquin Valley in California, where feed-corn prices have tripled. Farmers told her it was getting cheaper to slaughter animals than feed them.

So ethanol subsidies drive up the federal deficit, no longer enjoy enviros' support and make voters pay more to eat. Case closed, you would think.

But you cannot underestimate the power of corn-state senators from both parties and Iowa's super-size role in presidential elections.

Also, when Washington gives away tax dollars, it creates a lobby to keep the money coming. The ethanol lobby argues that if Washington turns off the subsidy spigot and tariff tap, the industry will dry up. Even though Coburn-Feinstein did not terminate the federal mandate that oil refiners blend gasoline with renewable fuels.

Advertisement

Feinstein says she wants to negotiate with Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., and Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., who want to revamp ethanol subsidies by tying them to the price of oil and sustaining them through 2014.

White House spokesman Jay Carney has said President Obama is for "reforming" the subsidy, "not repealing it."

When there was a moment to confront the ethanol tide, Feinstein and fellow California Democrat Sen. Barbara Boxer chose to protest Coburn's methods. If Feinstein wins 60 votes on a solid substitute to her original amendment, kudos to her. If Feinstein-Coburn fails, it is on Feinstein.

As Coburn told Politico, "Go home and tell people you refused to vote on the amendment because you didn't like the way it was brought up. Let's see how that sells to the American people."

Sponsored

Join the conversation as a VIP Member

Recommended

Trending on Townhall Videos