Now that Hillary Clinton has launched her second bid for the White House, we will see even more scrutiny of her on everything from her time at State to the Clinton Foundation’s funders. But the issue that best exposes Clinton’s enormous ambition – and her readiness to sacrifice the interests of consumers to that ambition – is her flip-flop on the corn ethanol tax.
No other active, high-profile American politician has been as duplicitous on a basic pocketbook issue as Clinton has been on this one. The corn ethanol tax, which was imposed by Congress last decade and is formally known as the Renewable Fuel Standard, now costs American motorists $10 billion per year in additional fuel costs. That works out to about $47 per year for every licensed driver in the country.
During her early years in the US Senate, Clinton was a staunch opponent of the corn ethanol tax. In 2002, she and three of her senate colleagues — New York Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer and California Democrats Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer – used that very word, “tax” to describe then-pending legislation that was to require the blending of two billion gallons of corn ethanol per year into domestic gasoline supplies. Their March 21, 2002 letter said the pending measure would add “an astonishing new anti-consumer government mandate – that every US refiner must use an ever-increasing volume of ethanol.”
They said consumers would be “forced” to use ethanol and that the legislation was “the equivalent of a new gasoline tax.” In all, during her stint in the Senate, Clinton voted against ethanol 17 times.
But when she set her sites on the White House and realized she had to kowtow – just as Barack Obama was doing – to Big Corn in Iowa, she flipped like a hotcake. In early 2007, during a visit to Des Moines, Clinton said that the US needs to work on “limiting our dependence on foreign oil. And we have a perfect example right here in Iowa about how it can work with all of the ethanol that’s being produced here.”
The sole reason for her flip-flop: her desire to win the Iowa caucuses, which is the first crucially important contest in the race for president. More ethanol production means more money for Iowa farmers and ethanol producers, but it’s a loser for most everyone else in the country. It’s also a negative for the environment and for people who like to eat. John DeCicco, a research professor at the University of Michigan’s Energy Institute, recently published a report which found that “there’s no climate benefit” from using biofuels. Meanwhile, researchers looking at the Gulf of Mexico are expecting another huge “dead zone” (also known as a hypoxia zone) this year, thanks in large part to fertilizer-laden runoff from corn farms in the Midwest.
Read more at The Daily Beast.