Your morning jolt: Senate Republicans revolt against Grover Norquist, ethanol subsidies

Open warfare has broken out between Republicans in the U.S. Senate and anti-tax guru Grover Norquist. From the Washington Post:

A majority of Senate Republicans appeared to break Tuesday with two decades of GOP orthodoxy against higher taxes, voting to advance a plan to abruptly cancel billions of dollars in annual tax credits for ethanol blenders.

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), who is in support of the elimination of a government aid bill for ethanol producers, speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington. Philip Scott Andrews/New York Times

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), who is in support of the elimination of a government aid bill for ethanol producers, speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington. Philip Scott Andrews/New York Times

The measure, offered by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), fell short of the 60 votes needed to overcome a filibuster threat. But it had the support of 34 of 47 Republicans, most of whom have signed an anti-tax pledge that specifically prohibits raising taxes by any means but economic growth.

Coburn has argued forcefully that Republicans must abandon that pledge if they are serious about tackling the spiraling national debt. Though the Senate turned back his measure, he said the vote nonetheless marks the beginning of the end of GOP tolerance for wasteful giveaways through the tax code.

“You’ve got 34 Republicans that say they’re willing to end this, regardless of what Grover says,” Coburn said, referring to pledge creator Grover G. Norquist, the founder of Americans for Tax Reform. “That’s 34 Republicans that say this is more important than a signed pledge to ATR.”

Among those voting to end the enthanol subsidies were U.S. Sens. Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson. Ending expensive tax incentives is one of the key elements of Chambliss’ “Gang of Six” bipartisan plan to tackle a $14 trillion federal deficit.

Marketwatch picked up Chambliss’ comments from the floor:

“Even though I’ve supported this tax credit, for all of the years that I have served in both the House and Senate, I think the time has come,” Chambliss said…. “I do not intend to support an extension of that tax credit beginning from the expiration at the end of this year.”

TMZ has a vacation photo of GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich, who indeed was in need of some serious beach time. That, or a polar bear was washed into the Mediterranean.

Meanwhile, AJC’s Politifact Geeorgia takes a look at Newt Gingrich’s citation of tax cuts under President Ronald Reagan as proof that such tactics result in economic growth.

Score a big win for Republicans in Wisconsin. From the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:

Acting with unusual speed, the state Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered the reinstatement of Gov. Scott Walker’s controversial plan to end most collective bargaining for tens of thousands of public workers.

The court found that a committee of lawmakers was not subject to the state’s open meetings law, and so did not violate that law when it hastily approved the collective bargaining measure in March and made it possible for the Senate to take it up.

Meeting in Arizona, members of the Southern Baptist Convention elected an African-American pastor to its No. 2 position for the first time on Tuesday.

Why is that worth noting in this space? Because, especially in the South, the growth of the Republican party and the nation’s largest Protestant denomination have run along parallel tracks. From the Associated Press:

This year’s meeting comes following the release of internal figures showing SBC affiliates baptized fewer people in 2010 than any time since the 1950s and also saw declines in overall membership and attendance.

David W. Key Sr., the director of Baptist Studies at Emory University’s Candler School of Theology, said the decline reflects the fact that the membership of many Southern Baptist churches is aging.

“Over the next few years membership is going to drop even more dramatically,” he said. “And older members are the financial foundation of the churches. As they die off that trend is going to have a big impact.”

That plan for a toll road running west of metro Atlanta doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. From the Times-Georgian in Carrollton:

The Lamar County Board of Commissioners voted 5-0 Monday to decline to join a development authority. Last Tuesday, the Carroll County Board of Commissioners became the first to flatly say no, voting 7-0 not to join the authority. Carroll’s vote came after 13 area residents spoke passionately against the project.

The Joint Development Authority was the first step in developing the proposed Western Commercial Connector – a $2 billion, privately funded toll road spanning 113 miles – that would run through Carroll County while stretching from I-75 in Bartow County all the way to Spalding County on the south end and connecting with I-75 in Lamar County. The idea originated with the Paulding County Development Authority and to date Paulding County is the only government to approve the resolution.

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

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16 comments Add your comment


June 15th, 2011
9:10 am

The ethanol subsidy has been a pandering holdover to Iowa farmers (and Archer-Daniels) because of the first presidential nomination caucus every 4 years. It has nothing to do with good economics, just a political payoff.

Making an attempt to break this bad subsidy policy as if it were raising taxes is simply a liberal ploy.

Enchanting Ethanol

June 15th, 2011
9:13 am

It is unbelievable! I wonder if the problem is that there are not enough people interested in the ethanol issue to get this legislation passed. Hardcore environmentalist and those touched by an ethanol plant fiasco “get it” but the environmental “light” crowd took a long time to understand that ethanol is a really bad idea. Meanwhile…….the greedy, dangerous ethanol investors jumped on reaping the subsidies. When will it end?
What is with Grover anyway? In 2004 Mike Mihalke (partner in Alexander Strategy Group and former press secretary for presidential candidate Rick Santorum) approached our rag-tag environmental group in a dark alley—not kidding, a dark alley— and offered “help” fighting off an ethanol plant financially backed by Vinod Khosla’s Cilion. Although the names changed frequently when pressed, the clients Mihalke was working for included Americans For Tax Reform. Are Grover and ATR changing their opinion on ethanol?


June 15th, 2011
9:25 am

Thank God all Georgia’s Republicans are still Grover’s bitches.

Not a Saxby Fan

June 15th, 2011
9:46 am

Saxby and Johnny have finally come around?

The next thing you know, I will be supporting them again.

First, they have a whole lot of damage they inflicted to reverse.

You cannot be a fiscal conservative and put tax increases off the table. I figure $1 tax increase to $2 or $3 of spending cuts to be a proper perspective. Let me correct that – the old correction would have been 2:1, but the insane Bushbama/Obushma spending has taken it to 3:1 spending cuts to tax increases.


June 15th, 2011
9:56 am

Folks, regardless of what liberals try to tell you – a subsidy is NOT a tax. It is the exact opposite. It is spending. NEGATIVE taxation.

Those who want to reduce UNNECESSARY subsidies are not raising taxes, but reducing unnecessary spending.


June 15th, 2011
10:10 am

What we need is more de-regulation….Then we can kill not only every living thing in the Gulf of Mexico, but maybe we can get what’s alive in the Atlantic and Pacific, too….And of course we can kill some more miners and cut off all the mountaintops….And next we can shoot for the skies…No birds and brown skies….Chickens can’t fly no way……..Drill, baby, drill….

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June 15th, 2011
10:35 am

Chambliss and Isakson would rather spend all that tax money on the F-22 which is coincidentally tied to their political support.

Defense spending takes more than half the discretionary budget. Everything else is a literal drop in the bucket, so until we get serious about cutting procurement boondoggles this is all political theater.


June 15th, 2011
10:44 am


June 15th, 2011
10:35 am

Believe it or not defense spending is one of the few things the Federal government should be doing. Defending this country, guarding our borders and foreign policy are the primary role of the Federal government, everything else is either not needed or is a secondary role.

Ga Values

June 15th, 2011
11:03 am

I am proud of Saxby, he vored for the taxpayer & against his LOBBYIST son. The sun will raise in the west.

Rob Woodall visited the troops last week, to brag about his free healthcare and to warn them that their healthcare will suck once they come home

June 15th, 2011
11:22 am

Looking to get rid of the ethanol subsidies is loooooong overdue.

Too bad it didn’t work. Also, too bad there is still a tariff (tax) on imported ethanol.

J Throckmorton Malcontent

June 15th, 2011
12:31 pm

say td, read this:
“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
Here’s the Founders vision in a nutshell as to what the priorities of the United States Government (that’s us) ought to be.
Let’s recap: Federalism, Justice, Peace, Defense, Welfare, and Liberty. All of the above. Including Welfare.

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