A test for Republicans in the lame duck: Kill the ethanol boondoggle

An early sign for me that Barack Obama was no good-government reformer, clear-eyed empiricist, or scourge of the special interests was his full-throated support for expanding ethanol subsidies. Obama consistently attacked John McCain during the 2008 campaign for McCain's history of opposing ethanol subsidies.

Now, one of the earliest tests of the Republicans' seriousness about cutting government waste will be their handling of ethanol subsidies that are set to expire this year. Will Senate Republicans filibuster the renewal of these costly, distorting, wasteful subsidies? If the buck gets passed to next year, will House Republicans kill them?

For some good background, see Ron Bailey's blog post at Reason.com today:

This year the U.S. vehicle fleet will burn about 13 billion gallons of ethanol, the vast majority of which is made by fermenting corn. Just in time for the upcoming mid-term elections, the Environmental Protection Agency earlier this month bowed to pressure from the ethanol lobby and farm state congressional delegations and increased the amount of ethanol that can be blended into gasoline from 10 percent to 15 percent. The ethanol lobby is now in full mobilization mode to protect the billions in subsidies which are set to expire at the end of this year. On the other hand, environmentalist organizations like the Natural Resources Defense Council are fiercely arguing for letting the subsidies expire.

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