Yes, you read that right, in Iowa. It’s been a running joke for a number of election cycles that the political popularity of ethanol subsidies rests squarely on the fact that the opening gates for the Presidential races are in Iowa. Any candidate even hinting that ethanol subsidies might be something less than sound policy has long been assumed to be dead-on-arrival in Iowa, and thus the presidential race.
But Tim Pawlenty, who officially announced his candidacy today in Iowa, went after ethanol subsidies. And, frankly, I admire him for it.
Pawlenty added caveats — that it would have to be phased out and not immediately, and by saying, “I’m not some out-of-touch politician. I served two terms as Governor of an ag state. I fully understand and respect the critical role farming plays in our economy and our society. I’ve strongly supported ethanol in various ways over the years, and I still believe in the promise of renewable fuels – both for our economy and our national security.”
But he added that, “even in Minnesota, when faced with fiscal challenges, we reduced ethanol subsidies. That’s where we are now in Washington, but on a much, much larger scale.”
Most presidential announcements produce no news, but Pawlenty’s call for ending ethanol subsidies likely will draw headlines, and not just any headlines, but headlines that coincide with the theme of his campaign — that he’ll tell the truth. And he added that, “Tomorrow, I’m going to Florida to tell both young people and seniors the truth that our entitlement programs are on an unsustainable path and that inaction is no longer an option.”
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Tempering accolades for T-Paw’s political bravery is the fact that even liberals like Pawlenty’s Minnesota colleagues Senators Klobuchar and Franken are calling for ethanol subsidies to be phased out. If said phasing out of subsidies takes a decade or two, it’s hardly courageous policy.
But still, that Pawlenty would even mention it in Iowa at the announcement of his presidential campaign takes some cojones.
Update: More from Pawlenty on Limbaugh’s show today: