For weeks, Coburn has been pushing to blow up the Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit, which every year gives $5 billion of your tax money to petroleum refiners that blend ethanol into their fuels.
This tax credit is just one part of the subsidies and favors Congress has lavished upon the ethanol industry, despite the fact that ethanol takes more energy to produce than it delivers and is less than ideal for marine applications.
The ethanol industry also enjoys a 54-cent-per-gallon tariff on foreign ethanol and a federal mandate that requires 13.95 billion gallons of alternative fuels to be produced this year. That number leaps to a staggering 36 billion by 2022.
With the deck stacked in the industry's favor, it's little wonder corn prices have rocketed from $1.93 per bushel just a decade ago to $7 per bushel today.
If you own acres of farmland in the Midwest, you've watched your bottom line swell to dizzying dimensions.
But the subsidies haven't been so kind to U.S. taxpayers. Not only have their dollars been used to drive up corn prices, but those taxpayers are now forced to pay much higher prices for consumer goods, like beef and pork, that depend on grains for feed.
In March, Coburn attached an amendment to the Small Business Reauthorization Act that would immediately eliminate the tax credit to petroleum refiners. Without the credits, refiners would be much less inclined to mix expensive ethanol into their fuels.
But Coburn's amendment was blocked by fellow Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley. Guess where he hails from?
Right in the heart of corn country.
And the worst part of it is that Grassley isn't even content to leave things as they are. He's actively working with Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., on legislation that will expand ethanol infrastructure.
Like a gambler wearing out the ATM at a Vegas casino, Grassley wants to throw good money after bad. He claims his motives are pure, and he only wants America to become energy-independent.
Surely, then, it's only a coincidence that his constituents are getting filthy rich off the subsidies he feels should be entrenched in the budget.
Coburn has vowed to keep up the fight against ethanol subsidies, and he's gotten support from Republicans and Democrats in his efforts.
This will become even more important in the months and years ahead, since the Environmental Protection Agency has approved the sale of automotive fuels containing as much as 15 percent ethanol. Most marine outboard warranties become void if any fuel containing more than 10 percent ethanol is used.
In this year of budget debates, we as a nation shouldn't be funneling scarce tax dollars to an industry that is actually harming the American economy. Grassley should be ashamed of himself.
In an April 5 editorial, the Wall Street Journal said it best: "Ethanol is such a preposterous example of corporate welfare that any conservative should be embarrassed to support it."