Earlier this week former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty raised eyebrows, and sparked the interest of conservatives, when he announced in Iowa of all places that ethanol subsidies need to be phased out. Clearly feeling that there was some political hay to be made, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney made his own ethanol statement in Iowa.
One that was the exact opposite of Pawlenty’s:
It was an odd setting for a policy pronouncement, but on the sidewalk outside the Historical Building here, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney embraced ethanol subsidies. It came just days after and blocks from where his rival for the Republican presidential nomination, Tim Pawlenty, said the subsidies should be phased out.
“I support the subsidy of ethanol,” he told an Iowa voter. “I believe ethanol is an important part of our energy solution for this country.” Iowa leads the nation in the production of corn, a main source of ethanol.
Pawlenty is clearly looking past Iowa towards appealing to a broader, national base of conservatives who want an end to big government interventions. Romney obviously has a more short-sighted view. He wants to pander to Iowa, hoping that a primary win there (remember he lost Iowa to Mike Huckabee in the last cycle) will give some momentum to his campaign for the nomination.
In other words, Pawlenty at least seems to be trying to infuse his campaign with some lofty and worthy goals. Romney, on the other hand, seems to be all political calculation and posturing.
Ethanol subsidies are one of the worst ideas our government has ever had. Trying to fill the nation’s fuel tanks with one of our staple food crops is just plain folly. Maybe there’s a place for ethanol in the national fuel markets, but the government attempts to manufacture a place for ethanol with subsidies and mandates is just plain folly.