Narrowly targeted tax incentives like those for ethanol producers are really just spending items, the expenses of which could just as easily appear on the spending side of the federal budget ledger. This is why the elimination of these credits should not require an offsetting tax cut somewhere else as some Republicans appear to demand. After all, conservatives who support cutting federal spending haven’t demanded that each dollar cut be used to reduce taxes. No one has articulated why we should treat spending on ethanol, solar, or any other tax incentive differently just because that spending happens in the tax code rather than in an appropriations bill.