Categorized | Commentary/Editorial

Palin vs. Romney on Ethanol Subsidies

Traveling today in Pennsylvania, Governor Palin was asked about the indefensible ethanol subsidy, via Scott Conroy at Real Clear Politics:

Asked Tuesday whether she supports the federal subsidy of ethanol, an always critical issue in the presidential nominating cycle, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin went one step further and called for the elimination of all energy subsidies.

"I think that all of our energy subsidies need to be relooked at today and eliminated," Palin told RCP during a quick stop at a coffee shop in this picturesque town tucked into the south-central Pennsylvania countryside. "And we need to make sure that we’re investing and allowing our businesses to invest in reliable energy products right now that aren’t going to necessitate subsidies because, bottom line, we can’t afford it."


 "We’ve got to allow the free market to dictate what’s most efficient and economical for our nation’s economy. No, at this time, our country can’t afford the subsidies. Before, though, we even start arguing about some of these domestic subsidies that need to be eliminated — should be — we need to look at ending subsidies and loans to foreign countries and their energy production that we’re relying on, like Brazil."

Now let’s contrast Governor Palin’s sober position on the issue with that of the beltway’s choice: Mitt Romney. This past Thursday, in Iowa, the Mittster reaffirmed his full-throated support for the taxpayer financed boondoggle, via Jonathan Weisman of the Wall Street Journal:

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.


“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.


His answer, delivered without hesitation, adhered to the orthodox position of politicians vying for Iowa votes.

What a surprise.  While in Iowa, home of the nation’s first caucus, Mitt goes out of his way to smooch the posteriors of ethanol producers.  This is pure political pandering. The ethanol subsidy has done nothing to enhance America’s energy independence.  Indeed it’s nothing more than welfare to wealthy ethanol producers when we can ill-afford it.  We’ve wasted tens of billions of dollars subsidizing ethanol over the past 30 years and it’s still not economic, indeed it wouldn’t even exist absent these taxpayer financed subsidies, as Governor Palin indicated above. And these are only the direct costs.  If we take into account the higher prices consumers pay for all corn-based products due to the diversion of corn to ethanol production, the $.54 per gallon tariff Americans pay for more efficient sugar-based ethanol from Brazil as part of the domestic ethanol protection scheme, and the high costs of storing and transporting ethanol, among other things, American  consumers are out billions of dollars more.

And for what? To enrich a few ethanol producers and the politicians they own? There’s no evidence that ethanol subsidies have lowered our energy costs or made us more energy independent. Quite the opposite. This is a no-brainer. There’s simply no reason, economic or otherwise, to continue this colossal waste of money and misallocation of resources. If the Mittster, whose fans refer to him as some kind of economic genius, can’t be trusted to make the correct call on something as simple as this, what can he be trusted on? And this is the sort of "leader" beltway Republicans want to foist on us in 2012? How would this be qualitatively different than what Obama’s doing? Mitt Romney, we’re told by the beltway establishment, is the serious and weighty option for 2012.  Yet on an issue as simple as this, he chooses to pander to Iowa farmers by supporting the unsupportable, while the allegedly unserious Governor Palin is the one offering serious policy prescriptions and analysis. 

By supporting the elimination of all energy subsidies, Governor Palin has it exactly correct.  There’s no logical reason to subsidize any of these pie-in-the-sky fantasies, whether they be solar tiles, windmills, ethanol, or any of the other myriad schemes the political class can cook up.  If there was any chance that any of these so-called "green" energy sources were going to produce energy reliably and economically, they wouldn’t need subsidies in the first place. The fact that they do, and that entrepreneurs are unwilling to play without them, tells us all we need to know. The free market works.   

Related: James Quinn has much more on the insanity of the ethanol subsidy here.  Read the whole thing.

Update: Ed Morrissey has more:

Palin’s position provides a direct rebuke to Romney, who tried to argue that ethanol deserves federal subsidies because it’s an “important part” of America’s energy future.  The problem with that position is that ethanol isn’t an emerging technology.  It’s been subsidized for decades on the same basis Romney claimed last week.  Subsidies aren’t going to R&D any more; they’re being used to artificially allow ethanol to compete against gasoline on a price basis, which puts government in the position of mandating winners and losers in technology and markets — with predictable results.

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  • Greg Legakis

    Palin & Trump will meet tonight at Trump Tower and LATER have dinner together

    • TheTotalConservative

      I don’t know what to make of it.

      • Greg Legakis

        It’s called dinner with a rich guy.  Not everything means something.

      • fesofee

        Don’t worry.  The media will tell you what to make of it.

      • Justin Symbol

        Sarah loves the Trumps if not because they symbolize ritz and glamour. Sarah is a woman after all and finally able to revel in it.

        • lanahi

          Where has she been attracted to ritz and glamour?  She has her own money now, if she wants to surround herself with ritz and glamour.
          What I’m thinking is he may be wanting to help fund her campaign and endorse her.

        • blackbird

          Justin, you are way off base.

    • Reckoner_3

      I wonder if Trump started off as an Obama/Rahm plant, but Sarah was like "you work for me now"

    • JeannieBinVA

      Don’t much care for this, but then I’ve never understood why anyone would want to spend even 5 minutes in Trump’s company.   

      Sarah has said she likes Trump, but he represents the antithesis of what this "One Nation" journey is about. In fact, with his outsized self-absorption, his inability to even comprehend the meaning of the word "sacrifice", and his dismal lack of class in every possible way, he’s pretty much the antithesis of everything that is good about America’s past and present.

      It’s Sarah’s life to lead as she chooses, but I really hope she doesn’t make a habit of being in the company of this guy. It will hurt her public image terribly; just think how gleefully everyone will talk about her "palling around with Trump".  Ugh.  

  • heshtesh
    • PhilipJames

      running interference for Mom. Good stuff.

  • TheTotalConservative

    Romney is a Unprincipled Hack. Mr. Expediency is a disgrace to Conservatives.

  • Greg Legakis

    Another reason to NOT like Romney:

    Today on MSNBC: He states that he thinks South Park is funny and wants to
    see "The Book of Mormon" on Broadway.

    As a Mormon myself, that’s all I needed to hear to know that if he’s the nominee I will not support him.

    What a flippin’ hypocrite! If he thinks this makes him look hip or cool, sadly he is grossly mistaken.

    Run Sarah Run!

  • danielvito

    Contrast, Sarah takes a principed stand in the first in the nation caucus state. Romneycare panders for votes, like he has done all his short political career. Man, I can’t stand Romneycare!

  • citizenG100

    I knew Sarah would come out against ethanol subsidies. Last week I wondered what TPaw would hope to gain by advocating against them when Sarah was always likely to be against them as well. He now has lost one way of differentiating himself from her in Iowa. It will be interesting to see what MB and HC do on this issue.

    • lanahi

      I think TPaw is a good conservative who would be against the ethanol subsidies.  He is not taking opposite opinions to Sarah just to show a difference between the two.  He is mainly a boring and ineffectual Sarah.  I have a feeling Bachmann will support subsidies, though, as another appeal to Iowans.
      Those of you who know more about it:  How popular really are the subsidies in Iowa?  My impression is that the typical small farmer is not able to take real advantage of the subsidies.  How hot of an issue is it in Iowa?

      With the food shortages around the world and prices going up, it seems somehow immoral to put our food into gas tanks instead, even if it made sense energy-wise, which it doesn’t.

      • mymati

        Look at TPaw carefully he is not the conservative he appears to be. He has held many RINO positions in the past.

  • BostonBruin

    I would not expect Romney to show up at the debate in Iowa on August 11th, unless he’s prepared to defend his position on this issue (esp. if the Cuda is there).

  • c4pfan

    Thanks Sarah for explaining that everything needs to be looked at, because this country is broke.  Plus, before even looking at our subsidies, look at the subsidies going to other countries!

  • heypiasano

    When Trump played the media a month ago, he took all the air out of the room and propelled himself to the top of the polls. Trump never had in mind that he wanted to be President but rather he wanted to be influential as to  who would be. The people behind the scenes including, Rush, Levin, Hannity, Greta and I still believe the Koch Brothers have had a strategy to make the media irrelevant in this coming election.

    Everyone is in amazement as to how this is playing out. Each week we are given little tid bits of information and the media doesn’t know where to go with it.

    • John Norton

      Sarah needs all of her allies in the big apple I expect Rudi to be coming around the corner to have breakfast with her in the morning…

    • cookboy

      He didn’t take the air out of the room, he befouled it with his special brand of golden flatus.

    • parigger

      Hey heypiasano educate me alittle if you will ,please. Who are the Koch brothers  and what do they stand for? I pay attention but somehow don’t know of these guys , in advance thank you. Guv Palin 2012

      • Vicki

        they own huge busineses, like Brawny papertowells or stuff you buy all the time. They have big chunks of money and whomever they choose to back will be lucky.

        • parigger

          Thank you Vicki, don’t know if this is good or bad but the Guv will win in 2012 any way they want to play it

          • Guest

            They’ll attack the Koch Brothers but the MSM won’t touch SOROS.

  • VADMCollingwood

    No one in America would entrust TheeRomney with nuclear weapons. 


  • puma_for_life

    I am in awe of Sarah Palin.  I mean, I guess I have said this before, but I have been following politics since a child and I have never seen a more brilliant political stategist.  I just am loving every moment. First thing I do when I get back home is run to my computer and check this site first; then do the rounds to see if I can find any other tidbits what saracuda has been up to today. Really impressive.

    • John Norton

      Im sure you would agree you ll get a earful here…

      • cookboy

        To some everything is a political move.

  • Whitney Pitcher

    I grew up on a corn and soybeans farm, and my dad didn’t agree with ethanol subsidies. I was very excited to hear Governor Palin state her thoughts on this policy. I presumed she would come out against them.

    The thing is–her other policies go a long way to assisting farmers by getting the government out of the way, rather than getting the government more involved.

    Decreasing energy prices through increased domestic drilling and a stronger dollar will help farmers immensely, as will not implementing cap and trade or other overreaching energy regulations through laws or EPA regulations.

    Also, ethanol subsidies increase the cost of food. This affects other segments of agriculture that are reliant on corn based feed for their animals. It also affects worldwide prices which hits third world countries hard.

    In addition to the budgetary reasoning that Governor Palin shared,  she is right on when it comes to this issue.

  • cookboy

    The subsidy business is bad for America. Always has been, always will be. Seems pretty simple to me.

  • colint

    I agree that ethanol subsidies should be eliminated. Inview of food shortages, some related to weather changes, in some areas of the world, she could say that she will have more done to increase US grain exports.

  • fesofee

    I can’t wait to see how quickly the elites praise Sarah for her courage on the issue the way they did T-Paw.  But I won’t hold my breath.

  • nala3325

    It’s time to bring back that old c4p classic.

    • blackbird

      never gets old. LOL…

  • Reckoner_3

    Right on, Sarah.

    The ethanol nonsense in particular needs to end. This is good to put up
    against people who like to use Sarah’s positions she had to take with

    Sarah’s too smart to not be aware of the corn subsidies for fuel. It
    just isn’t common sense; too much abuse of tax payer dollars.

    This was also an example at how Bush was clueless/complicit with
    politics as usla on many issues, I remember in an interview when he
    pointed to ethanol subsidies as his open mindedness on the "global
    warming" stuff.
    Which points to Romney & all the other complicit Republicans as status quo minded too lazy to acknowledge the inefficient use of our food supply for extra money. Noem in congress voted for ethanol subsidies, etc.

    This is another mark of someone who is able to examine the issues well and stand up to their conclusions once the rubber meets the road. Rather than going "well, I don’t want to make the hogs at through of ethanol subsidies unhappy with the cold HARD truth"

  • nkthgreek

    Sarah doesn’t "buy" votes!

  • Vicki

    I think it’s okay for the gov’t to spur business, especially by making loans available to people who would have a hard time getting access to money, like women and minorities. But if you’ve been dumping subsidies into something for 30 years it’s time to pull the plug

  • Gabriel J Benton

    Once again Mrs. Palin on the Constitutional side of the argument.  Hey Mitt how does it feel to be upstaged by a Mama Grizzlie?

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