The Senate voted to repeal the ethanol tax credit on Thursday. The significance of this wasn’t in the size of this particular tax expenditure (about $1 billion/year in forgone excise tax receipts, according to footnote 4 in this JCT publication), but in the fact that the proposal to end the credit and actually raise revenue from it actually received bipartisan support.
Here is the roll call vote. The yeas and nays are nearly perfectly evenly divided among Ds and Rs, with the nays easily explained by geography (corn-producing states). Some of those who voted no, like Senate Budget Committee chair Kent Conrad (one of the Democratic members of the Gang of Six-now-Five), no doubt would have favored a more sweeping reduction of tax expenditures–but would argue (I’m pretty sure) that picking on the ethanol tax subsidy alone and thus their particular (agricultural) part of the country is unfair.
I think this is a really good sign. (And I have more good news to share in my very next post…)