When it comes to criticizing “wasteful” tax policy, neither Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., nor the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal have much credibility, according to a recent blog post from the Renewable Fuels Association.
“While focusing with near myopic precision on American farmers and ethanol producers, both Sen. Coburn and the Journal are exposing their enormous blind spots when it comes to oil subsidies and corporate tax policy that allows the world’s largest companies to pay no taxes at all,” the post explains.
The blog is in response to the most recent anti-ethanol editorial from the Wall Street Journal (at least the seventh such editorial this year alone) in defense of Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn’s crusade to end investment in America’s ethanol industry. “Aside from the near pious nature of their crusade against American farmers and ethanol, both Senator Coburn and the Journal are exposing an enormous blind spot they share when it comes to claims seeking an end to wasteful tax policy.”
“By the calculations of one reporter, the oil industry is in receipt of narly $18 billion in direct annual support from taxpayers,” the blog explains. “That doesn’t include the price we pay to protect the free flow of oil from hostile regions of the world or the billions it takes to clean up the environment as a result of our reliance on fossil fuels. Some of these programs—such as the provision enacted in 1916 allowing expensing of ‘intangible drilling costs’ (whatever those are)—have existed for nearly 100 years! Many of these oil subsidies and tax shelters are buried so far down in the tax code that even a deepwater drilling rig couldn’t find them.”
Oil isn’t the only dark spot in their field of vision when it comes to tax policy. Some corporate tax loopholes that allow huge multi-nation companies to avoid paying taxes all together are almost always ignored in the Journal’s and Senator Coburn’s discussions of tax policy reform. “...when lawmakers like Senator Coburn and news outlets like the Wall Street Journal fail to discuss these job-exporting, tax-evading practices while lamenting the investment in a domestic renewable fuel industry that is reducing the price at the pump for all Americans, that is hypocrisy.”
“Tackling energy challenges and addressing shortcomings in the American tax policy require honest and comprehensive discussions,” the blog notes. “American ethanol producers are ready to have such discussions. The ethanol industry is actively engaged in good faith discussions with lawmakers and other stakeholders to transition and transform current ethanol policies to address budget concerns. Ideas that address market economics, such as a variable tax credit, investment in vehicles and infrastructure, and accelerate the commercialization of advanced ethanol technologies must be part of the discussion. When the Wall Street Journal and Senator Coburn are ready to talk seriously about energy tax reform, our door is open.”
The entire blog post can be read here.