Topics: Obamacare

The smart Republican ask: Kill a corporate welfare program

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Beltway Confidential,Congress,Timothy P. Carney,Obamacare,Republican Party,Export-Import Bank,Farm Bill,Boeing,Corporate Welfare

Many Congressional Republicans are in an awkward spot now. They would like to pass a clean continuing resolution to fund government, declare that "we tried to delay Obamacare, but we couldn't," and put this shutdown behind them.

But there's also a feeling that they don't want to leave empty-handed — that they can't have gone through all of this for nothing.

So, here are some things they can ask for that have the virtues of being (a) possibly attainable, (b) good policy and (c) potentially political winners:

Kill the sugar program

President Obama has been a big advocate of the farm bill that includes the least defensible bit of corporate welfare in federal law: the sugar program.

This program drives up the price of food, kills U.S. jobs and puts taxpayer money at risk just to protect the profits of a few well-connected companies and some growers who work for them. Let Obama defend this.

Obamacare's cozy deal for biotech drugs

Do Republicans want to make this a fight about Obamacare? Then pick on the law's second-most-egregious bit of corporate welfare (after the individual mandate, that is): 12-year government-granted monopolies for biotech drugs.

There's a reason top biotech lobbyist Jim Greenwood showed up at Martha Coakley's January 2010 fundraiser -- he knew Obamacare was a goldmine for his industry. The law prevents generic competition with biotech drugs for 12 years, compared to 5 years for regular drugs. This costs consumers and taxpayers money, and enriches biotech companies. It could be shorter.

Phase out aircraft subsidies

The main reason the Export-Import Bank of the United States exists is to subsidize the sale of Boeing jets. The main justification for these subsidies are the more obscene subsidies European governments give to French jetmaker Airbus.

Put a five-year sunset on Ex-Im's ability to subsidize Boeing, and instruct the president to negotiate a deal with Europe to get Airbus off the teat.

Kill the ethanol mandate

Seriously? Obama's going to keep the government shut down so that drivers will continue to be forced to put Archer Daniels Midland's moonshine in their gas tanks?

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