Big Corn Eats GOP

Well Mitt Romney is a fan and evidently so are most of the Republicans in the Senate.

Yesterday Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) forced a vote on the Senate floor for a measure that would have immediately ended both federal subsidies and protective tariffs for corn-based ethanol fuel. Incredibly he could only muster 34 republican votes on the measure. With the addition of six democrats the proposal fell 20 votes short of the 60 needed to advance.

Big Ethanol receives billions of dollars annually from the federal government to drive up the cost of food, continue dependence on foreign oil and destroy the small engines in my garage.

This seems like an issue that is ripe for TEA party outrage. Claiming that ending a tax subsidy results in a tax increase is ridiculous.

Investors Business Daily summarizes in an editorial today:

Expanding ethanol use was supposed to lead to greater energy independence. But oil imports have climbed right along with the sevenfold increase in ethanol production.

It was supposed to help the environment. But various studies have found that it does little, if anything, to reduce smog or greenhouse gas emissions.

It was supposed to keep gasoline prices down. Anyone filling up these days can see how well that’s worked out.

What it has done is raise food prices. As demand for corn goes up, so does its price, along with the price of every other food that relies on corn. The Congressional Budget Office calculated that up to 15% of the rise in food prices from 2007-2008 was due to the increased use of ethanol.

Of course this post wouldn’t be complete without highlighting how natural gas could help get us out of this mess, minus the subsidies of course. Either things work in the free market or they don’t.

Dallas-based chemical company Celanese Corp. has engineered a process to produce ethanol from natural gas and wants the federal government to give it some of the same incentives afforded corn-based fuel.

The company is promoting its technology, called Celanese TCX, as the answer to problems of corn-based ethanol — unpopular subsidies and its competition for a food crop, contributing to rising food prices.

By using the prolific domestic natural gas supply to produce the gasoline additive, the nation can ease demand for corn crops with a petroleum product that doesn’t have to be imported, said Steven Sterin, Celanese chief financial officer and head of advanced fuel technologies.