With Mitch Daniels out, the GOP nomination is quickly narrowing, at least in the non-crazy division. And I think Tim Pawlenty just scored some big points with a speech in Iowa:
Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty made a potentially risky move during his campaign launch speech in Iowa: he called for a phaseout of ethanol subsidies.
“The hard truth is that there are no longer any sacred programs,” said Pawlenty. “The truth about federal energy subsidies, including federal subsidies for ethanol, is that they have to be phased out. We need to do it gradually. We need to do it fairly. But we need to do it.”
Presidential candidates have been extremely loathe to criticize ethanol since Iowa is the first stop on the way to the White House. Obama bailed on them as did Gingrich. So Pawlenty deserves some credit.
However, let’s not get too excited just yet. Pawlenty has given no indication that I can find about whether he intends to end the biggest ethanol subsidy — the mandate that we have to include this polluting, engine-grinding filth in our gas. That’s the larger concern. Gingrich, for example, once said we would end direct subsidies by going for the indirect subsidy of ethanol mandates.
In the end, it will come down to Congress to have the stones to stop ethanol subsidies — direct or indirect. And I see little hope there. Even with the biggest fiscal crisis in our history and a crashed debt ceiling, they haven’t taken any steps against ethanol. I see little hope that they will do so under Obama or Pawlenty. After all, Bush said he would reform Social Security and the GOP congress punted on that too.