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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Pawlenty on Ethanol

Tim Pawlenty has made a very smart move. An interview with Rush:
PAWLENTY: Rush, what it's gonna really take to solve the debt and the deficit; and we called out for the phasing out of ethanol subsidies. I'm coming down to Florida tonight to give a speech tomorrow about really reforming Social Security and --

RUSH: Wait a minute! Wait a minute. You, in Iowa, called for the end to ethanol subsidies?

PAWLENTY: Yes, I did.

RUSH: What was the reaction you got to that?

PAWLENTY: Nobody applauded at this particular moment in the speech, but I gotta tell you: It has to be done, and if we're not willing to tell the truth and we're not willing to actually do it, then we're all wasting our time and I'm gonna go down there and play golf with you because we're just a debating society and wasting our time. Because this is it. It's gonna be mathematically irretrievable to get this thing back after this next election. So I'm swinging for the fences, not because I wanted to get elected but because we're gonna save this country and we're gonna do it bit telling the truth, and the American people --

RUSH: Now --

PAWLENTY: Go ahead.

RUSH: That's politically gutsy because the theory is in a campaign for the nomination, you gotta get the base. I mean, you've gotta say what it takes to get elected, and certainly questioning ethanol subsidies in Iowa is not the way to do that. The theory is, "Say what they want to hear in Iowa, say what they want to hear in New Hampshire, get the nomination, and then go for that." What's your...?

PAWLENTY: Well, I -- I --

RUSH: This is your truth agenda, I guess?

PAWLENTY: Yeah, and I also, Rush, when I was in Minnesota at governor, also a big renewable fuels state, I cut ethanol subsidies there when we had financial difficulties. So this isn't something new for me, but in my heart and in my gut this is the deal: We have to tell the truth and campaign like we're gonna govern, and govern like we campaign, and there is no way we can dupe the American people with all this lofty rhetoric and fluffy speeches and think that's gonna get the trick done.

The Wall Street Journal editorializes:

One of the immutable laws of modern American politics is that no candidate who wants to win the Iowa Presidential caucuses can afford to oppose subsidies for ethanol. So it's notable—make that downright amazing—that former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty launched his campaign for the Republican Presidential nomination Monday by including a challenge to King Corn.

"The truth about federal energy subsidies, including federal subsidies for ethanol, is that they have to be phased out," Mr. Pawlenty told a crowd in Des Moines. "We simply can't afford them anymore."

He's certainly right about that, though that hasn't stopped nearly every other candidate from deploring the federal deficit while supporting the most egregious of corporate welfare subsidies. This marks a change for Mr. Pawlenty, who over two terms leading Iowa's northern neighbor first fought farmers on subsidies but later supported their push for a 20% ethanol mandate for gasoline. But in refusing to stick to the script for candidates looking to harvest votes in February's Iowa caucuses, Mr. Pawlenty has passed an early test of fortitude. By opposing ethanol despite the political risks, Mr. Pawlenty will also gain credibility to tackle other energy subsidies that drain the federal fisc to little good effect.

Intriguingly, Mr. Pawlenty said he's also ready to take on other taboos of modern politics. "Conventional wisdom says you can't talk about ethanol in Iowa or Social Security in Florida or financial reform on Wall Street," he said. "But someone has to say it." Maybe this Presidential season will be more interesting than we've imagined.