Republicans are promising to cut taxes. But the raw truth is that the people who pay most of the taxes will barely get a tax cut and may get a tax increase. And almost half of Americans actually pay little to no federal income taxes.
But what does every family pay? The $15,000 annual hidden tax in the form of government interventions and regulations, raising the cost of vital goods and services.
Nowhere is this more evident than in the ethanol mandate, which raises the cost of fuel and food and is more regressive on the low- to middle-income consumer than any tax. Yet several GOP senators are so committed to keeping this corny racket that they are blocking one of Trump’s EPA nominees in order to promote this massive tax on the consumer and giveaway to Big Agriculture.
Ethanol is the Obamacare of energy. We force refiners to blend and, by extension, consumers to purchase diluted fuel containing inefficient bio-fuels blends. By making corn more expensive, this raises the cost of fuel and food just to line the pockets of an impotent industry that could never obtain market share in a free market driven by consumer satisfaction. Sounds familiar: See also health care.
Unfortunately, President Trump missed a colossal opportunity to promote a position that is both populist and free market and decided to keep the ethanol mandate. However, to his credit, he has been appointing some good people to the EPA, and they proposed some loosening of the mandate, such as counting exported biofuels as part of the RFS quota.
Now, GOP members of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, who are indistinguishable from the Democrat roster on the committee, are slowing down an EPA nominee because they feel Trump is not being supportive enough of ethanol.
Yup, even when Trump is liberal on an issue, the GOP Senate finds a way to get to his left.
William Wehrum was nominated by Trump to be assistant administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Air and Radiation, the key post overseeing the RFS. But GOP senators supportive of corporate welfare and higher prices for consumers are slowing down his nomination in order to shake down the Trump administration for more mandates on fuel blenders.
On Tuesday, Sen. Chuck Grassley said he’d consider blocking the nominee if Trump doesn’t give the commitee their preferred RFS levels, and he signed a letter along with 32 senators asking EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt to reconsider the earlier RFS announcement.
Among the signers was Bernie Sanders, the great champion of the little guy! Yet he’s supporting using the boot of government to mandate the purchase of the ineffective product of “millionaaaahhhhs” in order to hose consumers. I guess he is all for going after the rich as long as they rightfully earn their money in the free market, but if government hands it to them in the form of a mandate against the little guy, he’s fine with it.
Republicans, surprise, campaign like conservatives, govern like Democrats
Rather than using this issue to undermine the entire progressive populist message and provide a bold contrast, nine Republicans signed the letter: Blunt, Grassley, Ernst, Fischer, Hoeven, Moran, Collins, Roberts, and Thune.
Trump has reportedly acceded to their demands and has ordered Scott Pruitt not to cut one morsel from the RFS. Pruitt agreed to abandon the reform proposals and promised to set the socialist ethanol tax on consumers at “equal to or greater than the proposed amounts.”
According to CQ (subscription required), the opposition from Joni Ernst was likely the reason for postponing the confirmation of Wehrum, because she didn’t like his answers on biofuels. Ernst reportedly said, “Holding the EPA’s feet to the fire has put us on a path to receive strong reassurances on biofuel volumes and the EPA’s commitment to follow both the letter and the spirit of the RFS, as well as a commitment to not pursue other policies harmful to our farmers across Iowa.”
Isn’t it funny how after more than a decade of subsidies and mandates, this industry still can’t survive without forcing you to purchase its product?
This is the woman who complained about Big Government and spending and won a Senate seat because of some corny ad showing her castrating pigs. Yet, in the Senate she has failed to fight for us on a single issue. The only thing she castrated was our soldiers in the military by opposing Trump on transgender surgery in the military.
She should learn from Ted Cruz’s win in Iowa that being a statesman means telling your constituents that you will fight to get government regulations off their backs but will not give them special favors through subsidies, or worse, mandating that other people purchase their products.
Now Joni Ernst is co-sponsoring the Alexander-Murray Obamacare cartel bailout, which also funds abortions. Naturally, being for funding abortions and taxpayer-funded castration surgeries in the military makes her a member of the “Senate Values Action Team,” in this Orwellian Republican Party.
Providing a bold contrast to Democrats on crony capitalism would have been the perfect opportunity to defuse the Left’s arguments on the health care and tax issues and expose their populism for the fraud it is.
It would also help the consumer immensely by not using the boot of government to burn 40 percent of the nation’s corn in our engines and dilute our gas mileage to the point that the CBO says the government gets more gas tax revenue from the ethanol mandate (because motorists need to fill up more often).
Reagan famously said, “Government’s view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.”
Three decades later, as both parties force us to purchase bad insurance and bad fuel, we should add one final clause to his quip: “And if it makes everyone stop moving, mandate it.”
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Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.