What’s one of the easiest things to do in the lame duck session? Why, nothing — in relation to the 45-cents a gallon tax credit for ethanol and the 54-cents a gallon tariff on imported ethanol. Both are due to expire at year-end. It seems, though, that Congress is working its way to doing something, reauthorizing these programs that cost taxpayers $25-$30 billion over five years and hit consumers with higher prices at the gas tanks.
Right now there’s talk that the ethanol industry “would accept” a slightly lower subsidy. And the protectionism tariff on imported ethanol looks like it’s sacrosanct, even though President Obama has been preaching the benefits of trade in the wake of the finally agreed upon Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement.
Support for continuing the ethanol subsidy and tariff seems to be the “business as usual” state of affairs just a month after game-changing elections that will bring some avowed government cost-cutters to Congress in the next session. Even saving that $25-$30 billion in new deficit spending over five years doesn’t seem to affect this Congress. Right now, it still looks like special interests may trump the public interest, unless the lame ducks grow some backbone.