While the world watched Weiner resign, the Senate was busy doing stuff that mattered a lot more, like voting 73-27 to kill nearly $6 billion a year in ethanol subsidies. An amendment offered by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) failed on Tuesday, but rose miraculously from the grave two days later (take that, Jesus!) and passed today.
A mini-hullabaloo erupted within Republican ranks this week because the language eliminating the ethanol tax credit doesn't include a tax cut to offset the increased revenue, which means it technically violates the Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) pledge made by many senators not to hike taxes.
But now that the vote is a done deed, Americans for Tax Reform is offering the offending senators absolution for the sin of voting to kill the ethanol credit before the offset was in place. From an email sent out a few minutes ago:
As long as Taxpayer Protection Pledge signers that voted for the Feinstein/Coburn amendment also vote for the DeMint amendment [eliminating the Renewable Fuel Standard and the death tax], they will be in keeping with the Pledge they made to their constituents. Taken together, this elimination of favoritism toward ethanol is not a violation of the Taxpayer Protection Pledge.
How big of them.
No matter what happens with other cuts, the death of the ethanol subsidy is would be good news if the House follows the Senate's lead.
UPDATE: Just got a follow up email from Americans for Tax Reform's John Kartch:
I saw your piece on the vote today and thought it worth pointing out the big picture here—Coburn's desire to cave to Democrats on a grand debt deal with Obama that raises taxes in a big way.
Kartch encloses a bunch of gotcha quotes from Coburn. (Coburn: "Everybody knows there is gonna have to be a compromise on some sort of revenue increase as we make the major cuts. That's just fact.") Fair enough. But if you're a fiscal conservative who thinks Coburn is the enemy, you're walking a very lonely road.