Oil blames wind for Oklahoma's budget woes This story does a good job digging into the specifics of oil's access to powerful people in Oklahoma, the budget troubles there and the larger political fight around renewables on the Great Plains.
The US Supreme Court upholds subsidies on the federal exchanges in King v. Burwell in a 6-3 ruling written by the Chief Justice Roberts. Rejecting Chevron deference, the court decided that Congress actually intended for the federal exchanges to work like the state exchanges.
Big oil companies make more than $300 million every day. "Why should Americans prop up these companies with tax dollars and have to pay ridiculous fuel prices?" Self-described 'Democratic socialist' Bernie Sanders (Vermont) introduces a bill to cut $113B of fossil fuel subsidies. [more inside]
"Believe it or not, Twinkies have an expiration date. Some day very soon, Life's little Twinkie gauge is gonna go... empty."
Taxpayers in the San Francisco area spend $2,762,295 each year in junk food subsidies, but only $41,950 each year on apple subsidies. [LATIMES] A new report released this week has found that, among the billions of dollars spent each year in federal subsidies for commodity crops, a steady flow of these taxpayer dollars are going to support high fructose corn syrup and three other common food additives used in junk food. The report, “Apples to Twinkies: Comparing Federal Subsidies of Fresh Produce and Junk Food” by CALPIRG and the U.S. PIRG Education Fund, studies the interesting question of whether the nation's problem with obesity is fueled by farm subsidies.
Subsidizing Healthy Foods by Taxing Unhealthy Foods. Mark Bitman proposes a "national program that would make progress on a half-dozen problems at once — disease, budget, health care, environment, food access and more — while paying for itself." [NYT] [more inside]
How Private Is 'Private Charity'? Private charity may be more accurately described as "private donations coupled with involuntary, tax-financed public subsidies." And it's not fair: "very low-income people paying only payroll taxes get hardly any leverage for their donations. Very high-income people in states with high income-tax rates – such as New Jersey and New York – can through the tax code virtually double the money funneled to a charity per dollar of their own sacrifice." (previously)
Get the Energy Sector off the Dole - Why ending all government subsidies for fuel production will lead to a cleaner energy future—and why Obama has a rare chance to make it happen.
In the U.S., motorists do not pay their way. The US government spends more on highways and other auto-related expenses than it receives from auto-related taxes, unlike almost every country in Europe. In a recent report [pdf], Mark Delucchi calculates automobile-related costs and revenues in three different ways and concludes the subsidy is around 20-70 cents per gallon or $24-105 billion in 2002. But what are automobile-related costs, you ask? [more inside]
Africa does not need more expensive food. As the Doha trade rounds collapse largely due to disagreements about farm subsidies, Daniel Davies challenges the conventional view that farm subsidies hurt the poor.
Cash on the Scarecrow, Pork on the Plow Matt Welch, using data from Environmental Working Group, examines the largesse of subsidies to Mellencamps.
The Mohair Council of America wins the prize for our country's most unique lobbying group. (I mean, really - it's mohair!) The MCA exists largely to protect the mohair subsidies, which are leftover from a time when the military used the material for uniforms. The subsidies were phased out in the mid 90s, but the MCA lobbied hard enough to bring them back in 1999. It just goes to show that with a well-placed lobbying arm, even the most useless, obscure interest group can get a piece of the government pie. (Runner up: The Flexible Packaging Association)
Farm Subsidy Web Site Sows Discord: "Suppose you could go to a Web site, type in the names of co-workers--or maybe your boss--and find out how much money they make. Be honest--you would. And farmers, it seems, are no less curious than the rest of us. Since its public debut on Nov. 6, a new Internet-accessible database that ranks farmers by name according to the amount of federal subsidies they receive has recorded 10.1 million searches. The payments often constitute the bulk of farmers' income, and many of the hits have been by farmers eager to know how they compare with the guy growing corn or soybeans down the road." (Washington Post story, which C-SPAN pointed me to.)
Republicans plan energy bill "Legislation to be introduced next week by the Senate energy committee chairman would pay billions of dollars in subsidies to the energy companies, which gave generously in last year's campaign." More here.