There’s another train wreck in the corn­field

Oba­macare isn’t the only im­prac­ti­cal gov­ern­ment man­date

The Washington Times Daily - - Opinion - By Mer­rill Matthews

Do you think the Oba­macare roll­out raises im­por­tant ques­tions about gov­ern­ment man­dates, con­fu­sion, penal­ties and just how well bu­reau­crats can man­age com­pli­cated is­sues? It’s not the only one. There are a num­ber of sim­i­lar­i­ties be­tween Oba­macare and an en­ergy man­date known as the “re­new­able fuel stan­dard.”

Just con­sider: The fed­eral gov­ern­ment man­dates con­sumers use both prod­ucts (health insurance and re­new­able fu­els), be­cause the vast ma­jor­ity of peo­ple oth­er­wise wouldn’t. It sets the guide­lines for what must be used, and heav­ily sub­si­dizes the ef­fort with tax­payer dol­lars. In both cases, the gov­ern­ment im­poses penal­ties for not us­ing the prod­uct — even if the prod­ucts can’t be ac­cessed. The gov­ern­ment as­sured us both would lower costs when they ob­vi­ously raise con­sumers’ costs — sig­nif­i­cantly. It is widely rec­og­nized that both prod­ucts could be very harm­ful, even though the gov­ern­ment con­tin­u­ally de­nies it. Other than that, both Oba­macare and the re­new­able fuel stan­dard work just fine. In 2005, Congress passed the first re­new­able fuel stan­dard (RFS), man­dat­ing that by 2006, a min­i­mum of 4 bil­lion gal­lons of re­new­able fu­els, such as corn-based ethanol, be used in the na­tional trans­porta­tion-fuel sup­ply.

Then in 2007, Congress ex­panded the man­date to 9 bil­lion gal­lons by 2008, and 36 bil­lion gal­lons by 2022. How­ever, no more than 15 bil­lion gal­lons could be pro­duced from corn-based ethanol and no less than 16 bil­lion gal­lons from cel­lu­losic ethanol — a bio­fuel made from or­ganic ma­te­rial such as switch grass and wood chips.

Like Oba­macare, very few peo­ple would de­mand ethanol be mixed in their gaso­line, so the gov­ern­ment man­dates it to try to en­sure wide­spread us­age.

The gov­ern­ment also promised us that switch­ing to re­new­able fu­els would even­tu­ally save money (where else have we heard that claim?) — even as the gov­ern­ment was pour­ing in bil­lions of tax­payer dol­lars to sub­si­dize pro­duc­tion.

Any­one fol­low­ing the news lately knows that peo­ple are hav­ing trou­ble ac­cess­ing the Oba­macare web­site, which has an in­creas­ing num­ber of politi­cians won­der­ing how the gov­ern­ment could fine

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