A sign advertises the availability of ethanol E85 fuel at...

A sign advertises the availability of ethanol E85 fuel at a gas station in Chicago on Jan. 27, 2006. Credit: Getty Images

The best news in the U.S. Senate vote Thursday to kill a $6-billion ethanol tax credit is that 33 Republicans supported its extinction. That's an important departure from recent GOP thinking that equated eliminating tax breaks with raising taxes, something Republicans insisted they would never do. That position is untenable in the face of massive budget deficits and federal tax revenue at its lowest ebb in 60 years as a share of gross domestic product. Ending wasteful tax giveaways -- particularly one that encourages diverting corn to biofuel, which drives up food prices -- is just as important as ending wasteful spending. There's a long way to go legislatively before the 45-cent-a-gallon tax credit for refiners that blend ethanol into motor fuel can officially be pronounced dead. But the fact that so many Republicans broke ranks and voted to scotch a special-interest tax break is a hopeful sign.