Senate negotiators have cobbled together a plan that would significantly reduce subsidies for corn ethanol production. While the compromise is not perfect, Congress should move swiftly to pass the measure and end this monumental waste of taxpayer dollars and the economic distortions that come with it.
The deal reached by Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), John Thune (R-SD), and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), would end a 45¢/gal. tax credit for blending ethanol on July 31 rather than in December. A 54¢/gal. tariff on imported ethanol would also expire at the end of this month.
Combined, those subsidies cost taxpayers $6 billion/year. About two-thirds of the $2 billion in savings from the early termination would be dedicated to deficit reduction. The remaining third would go to fund a different set of subsidies, including some for ethanol, to promote alternative energy production and use.
Consider this two steps forward, one step back on ethanol. However, the deal is imperiled by the ongoing negotiations concerning the debt ceiling and dueling deficit-cutting plans.
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