The recent report on federal waste by the Government Accountability Office should signal a new era of frugality in the capital. Unfortunately, that’s hardly a foregone conclusion, given past attempts to reduce waste and duplication.
But the GAO report cites one mammoth government subsidy that is expected to get even bigger without congressional intervention. The federal government should stop mandating ethanol as a motor fuel additive and stop subsidizing corn-based ethanol. It would reduce a boondoggle that costs the federal taxpayer billions. And it would limit the upward pressure on food prices.
The newly energized House of Representatives recently took a step toward that fiscal reform by voting to block EPA plans to increase the percentage of ethanol from 10 to 15 percent at the pump. Another measure approved by the House would halt federal subsidies for the blending pumps required to prepare ethanol for motor vehicle use.
The GAO concluded that federal tax credits for ethanol should be allowed to die at the end of the year. It determined that the tax credits were a duplicative incentive, since ethanol use already is mandated.
Ending the ethanol mandate and subsidy would help, not hurt, the environment. It would improve vehicle fuel mileage. It would help put food on the tables of the poor.
And it would save taxpayers $100 billion.
Congress should move to harvest the benefits from this costly boondoggle.
The Post and Courier of Charleston (March 16)