The presidential campaign officially begins in Iowa. The Hawkeye State is also the nation’s corn-growing champion. Each year, Iowans sell 47 percent of that crop to produce ethanol, which accounts for a not-insignificant 8 percent of the state’s gross product.
Ethanol has friends in Washington, too. Congressional wizards have mandated that the gasoline pumped into cars throughout the land be diluted with ethanol — talk about a market guarantee!
At National Review, Jeremy Carl explains that “energy-policy experts of all political stripes can agree . . . mandates and subsidies to promote the use of corn ethanol (a policy first implemented by Jimmy Carter) are wasteful boondoggles that harm our environment and food supply while imposing billions of dollars of hidden costs on consumers. However, most energy-policy experts are not running for president in the Iowa caucuses.”
In 2008, both Sen. Hillary Clinton and Sen. John McCain flip-flopped to support the ethanol subsidies they had previously opposed.
But, this year, Sen. Ted Cruz and Sen. Rand Paul haven’t pandered along.
When Cruz rose to first place in the polls, Gov. Terry Branstad attacked, arguing, “It would be a big mistake for Iowa to support [Cruz]” because “his anti-renewable fuel stand . . . will cost us jobs, and will further reduce farm income . . .”
Yesterday, Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace asked Cruz, “Why should [Iowa] voters side with you over the six-term governor of this state?”
“I think there should be no mandates and no subsidies whatsoever,” Cruz replied.
In today’s Iowa caucus, can Cruz overcome the forces of crony corn?
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.