Nothing screams populism more than forcing consumers to purchase only fuel that is varnished by the inefficacious ethanol product in order to enrich a handful of cronies who can’t sell their impotent product without government quotas.
The Trump administration has the discretionary authority to lower the target mandates for how much ethanol and other renewable fuels refiners must blend into the nation’s fuel supply, but yesterday they opted to keep the 19 billion gallon target for 2018, representing only a tiny cut from the previous year’s level. While some of the subcategories for renewable fuels were slightly lowered, the ethanol mandate is more or less the same at 15 billion gallons.
By lowering the target mandate, or even better, calling on Congress to abolish the 2005 Renewal Fuels Standard law, this could have been the perfect opportunity for the president to harness his populism in support of the free market and consumers as it relates to the vital products of food and fuel. But alas, it was a lost opportunity.
In many respects, the ethanol mandate is the Obamacare of energy, a textbook example of using the boot of government through mandates and subsidies to force consumers into higher costs and lower quality goods for the most important needs of their lives.
Rather than allowing Americans the freedom to purchase the best form of fuel, the Washington cartel ethanol lobbyists have violated our sovereignty as individual consumers and used the boot of government to mandate that we only purchase fuel blended with their ineffective product.
To paraphrase Donald Trump, only the pathetic losers and dummies in the political establishment could think it’s a good idea to take 40 percent of the corn crop and shove it into our engines, thereby raising the cost of food and fuel—the two staples of middle class households in America.
According to a study cited by the Heartland Institute, families are forced to pay $2,055 more for food every year because 40 percent of the corn crop – the antecedent of the food chain – is used for fuel. A study from PricewaterhouseCoopers found that restaurants pay $18,000 more per year.
In terms of fuel, motorists must buy 1.5 gallons of ethanol to meet the mileage of 1 gallon of pure gasoline. As ethanol-opponent Robert Bryce warned, the ethanol mandate is a $10 billion tax on motorists.
Unfortunately, President Trump seems to have formed a bond with the parasitic ethanol cartel. Last month, he told an Iowa crowd that he is concerned the ethanol business is “under siege.” Really? They are under siege because some of us don’t want them using the force of law to coerce us into purchasing crappy fuel?
And how does this affinity for ethanol square with Trump’s promise to lower gas prices even further?
Gas prices are the lowest in the U.S. in over ten years! I would like to see them go even lower.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 4, 2017
There is no better way to lower the cost of fuel and food than by abolishing the ethanol mandate.
Just how much does the ethanol mandate jack up the price of fuel?
Consider the following anecdote: In 2015, when Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla. offered an amendment to repeal the ethanol mandate, he was told by the Congressional Budget Office that his effort would run amok budgetary procedures because it would increase the deficit by decreasing tax revenue.
How so? By alleviating consumers from purchasing diluted fuel and allowing them to actually fill up their tanks with unvarnished gasoline, motorists wouldn’t have to refill their tanks as often as they do now. That would result in less revenue for the government!
Hence, we have an entire venture socialist, government/corporate racket embedded in our economy that relies upon coercing individuals to purchase a terrible product. Much like Obamacare has wreaked havoc on affordable insurance plans, we have an energy mandate that bankrupts food producers, restaurants, and consumers, all so a few cronies can continue to slurp off the gravy train.
What is so tragic is that this is a perfect issue for the president’s persona and style. This is a teachable moment, just like Obamacare was before Republicans squandered it, to demonstrate how government mandates, subsidies, and regulations on behalf of well-connected swamp creatures is not only unconstitutional and anti-free market, but hurts low-and-middle-income consumers. Repealing the ethanol mandate is the biggest political winner in 49 states, and even in Iowa, Ted Cruz, R-Texas managed to win the Caucuses by running against the mandate.
To force Americans to purchase the defective product of well-connected cronies to service our most vital needs is a violation of our individual sovereignty the same way unconditional birthright citizenship violates our national sovereignty.
Nobody can claim to be a conservative, much less a populist conservative, and associate himself or herself with the ethanol gravy train.
The Trump administration is seeking new ideas on tax “reform” and is promoting Ivankacare, a new massive entitlement using the boot of government for tendentious treatment of mothers with young children who work full time over those who are stay-at-home mothers. But as I noted before, there is not much juice left to squeeze out of the tax code to give a further cut to middle income families beyond the Reagan and Bush tax cuts – without creating more welfare through the tax code.
The way to really alleviate the burden on middle-income consumers is to repeal Obamacare and the ethanol mandate, which drive up the cost of health care, fuel, and food at a magnitude that dwarfs the net income tax liability of most families earning under $150,000. And who knows? If we didn’t have these venture socialist government interventions in the first place, we wouldn’t need more Ivanka-type entitlements to solve the very problems created by government.
With Republicans violating their pledge to repeal Obamacare, maintaining the ethanol mandate is a colossal wasted opportunity.
Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.