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What’s your favorite adult beverage? Some like Johnnie Walker “Black Label,” and others like “Black Box” wine. However, no one drinks a product called “black liquor,” even though we all pick up the tab for it.
Black liquor is an alcoholic sludge. Yuck! It’s a byproduct of wood processing, used as a fuel in timber and paper mills. While you wouldn’t imbibe the stuff, Sen. Mike Crapo has made sure that we taxpayers have to swallow an even less-tasty, $3-billion-dollar-a-year federal subsidy for a handful of very profitable corporations that use the sludge to power their plants.
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This tax dodge is ridiculous, first because it benefits so few at such a high price. Second, it’s especially interesting hypocritical that Crapo is the one who poked the sludge-subsidy pipeline into law, for this Idaho Republican routinely blasts other senators for making the federal deficit worse by creating tax loopholes for – hello – special interests.
Third, Sen. Crapo’s loophole is truly loopy, for the subsidy comes out of a program set up by Congress specifically for alternative fuels in automobiles. Black liquor definitely does not qualify, but that’s no barrier for a high-stepping senator out to subsidize a home state corporation. So – hocus-pocus – alcoholic sludge was magically defined as a fuel for vehicles, letting Crapo’s favored corporations hot-rod around their tax obligations.
Wait, there’s more. Not wanting to be seen as just another senatorial servant of industry, deficit hawk Crapo performed his black magic in the dark, working behind closed doors early this year to preserve the fuel-funding loophole for black liquor.
The next time you hear Congress critters like Crapo demanding that you sacrifice to cut the deficit, demand that they show you the rabbits they’re hiding in their magician’s hat.
“Tax Breaks Defy Efforts To Close Huge U.S. Deficit,” The New York Times, July 21, 2012.