By on October 16, 2010

At least one of the institutions financing ads damning Democratic candidates this election season wants to put ethanol in your gas tank. The American Future Fund was founded by one Bruce Rastetter, the CEO of Hawkeye Energy Holdings, one of the larger ethanol companies in the US, according to an article in the New York Times. The fund is financing ads aimed at Democrats in key positions to influence booze fuel… so is the problem their “liberal” policies, or the fact that they’re insufficiently supportive of the farm lobby’s beloved corn juice?

“Of the 14 “liberal” politicians singled out in a list it released last month, nearly every incumbent sits on a panel with a say over energy or agriculture policy,” according to the Grey Lady. “Five sit on the Agriculture Committee; four others are on related committees with say. One candidate was a staff member on a related panel.”

One of the first politicians the American Future Fund supported was former Minnesota Republican Senator Norm Coleman, who had been co-chairman of the Senate Biofuels Caucus. American Future also attacked the Indy Racing League, because of a deal the League made to power Indy cars with Brazilian ethanol, in sharp contrast to its proclaimed mission “to provide Americans with a conservative and free market viewpoint.” Rastetter also helped start a trade group, Growth Energy, that pushes for tariffs on foreign producers, according to the NYT.

The NYT quotes a spokesperson for the American Future Fund, who claimed that ethanol and agriculture policy were not the reasons behind its attack ads. “We’re targeting liberal spending policies,” the newspaper quotes her as saying. Sure. As long as they get their ethanol subsidies.

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

27 Comments on “Corn Ethanol Advocates Trash Dems...”


  • avatar

    Corn Ethanol is the biggest waste of land and product there possibly could be. We need to figure out ways to make mass production of ethanol or biodiesel from waste.

    There are plenty of reasons to vote against Democrats but this ain’t one of em.

    Thing is, Republicans in power AREN’T turning things around any faster.

    • 0 avatar
      Daanii2

      We need to figure out ways to make mass production of ethanol or biodiesel from waste.

      Lots of people have spent lots of time and lots of money into trying to produce fuel from waste. As did many people, including Isaac Newton, trying to turn lead into gold. Probably about the same chances of success for both efforts.

    • 0 avatar
      cdotson

      Daanii2,
       
      Just over a century ago Gasoline was an undesirable byproduct of petroleum refining suitable for little more than removing stains from clothes.  The primary reason to refine petroleum oil was to replace whale oil for lamps.  Then around this time some fools from Germany came along and figured out that Herr Otto’s engine ran pretty well on this stuff that was otherwise industrial waste.
       
      Try thinking outside the box a little more.  I’m all for waste-for-fuel; I see no reason to focus on “ethanol” as the medium through which waste turns to fuel though.

    • 0 avatar
      Daanii2

      Cdotson, you are right that we need to think outside the box. No reason to give up on making fuel from waste. But we also need to realize that it may not be feasible.
       
      People tend to think that money and effort will solve any technical problem. That’s false.

  • avatar
    hines

    but we all know Ethanol is a huge scam.  So I’m not sure why this is a big deal.

  • avatar
    car_guy2010

    As a moderate environmentalist, I’m opposed to ethanol and sanctioning the corn industry. Ethanol production is unsustainable and Ethanol actually degrades the fuel economy of vehicles.
    It is just another one of the corn industry’s attempts to bring in big money to farmers.
    Though, it’s funny how conservatives are opposed to government intervention in business and yet, they just can’t resist the idea of getting subsidies from the government. I smell a conflict of interest.

    • 0 avatar

      A “moderate” environmentalist?

      does that mean you are like me:

      save water,  save electricity but drive two gas guzzlers?

    • 0 avatar
      Sugarbrie

      Where did you get the idea these BIG business people are conservatives??
      Archers Daniels Midland the big ethanol maker has been bribing Democrats for decades.
      Famers have been getting government hand outs for 80 years.  Not conservative.
      Richest American’s
      Bill Gates – Lib
      Warren Buffet – Lib
      HeinzKerry – Lib
      Howard Dean (Dean Witter Billions) Lib
      The super rich are all libs.

      Conservatives are mostly small business owners or military.

      All those Goldman Sachs people are Democrats including Bush’s Treasury Sec. Paulson

       

    • 0 avatar
      tparkit

      “It’s funny how conservatives are opposed to government intervention in business and yet, they just can’t resist the idea of getting subsidies from the government.”

      You must be joking. Those aren’t conservatives, they’re Republicans (RINOs for short). That’s why there’s a Tea Party.

  • avatar
    MikeAR

    Disgusting and cynical, any Republican who votes for ethanol subsidies ought to be defeated as should any Democrat. The system is corrupt and ought to be changed.

  • avatar

    David,
     
    Like Capt. Renault, I’m shocked, shocked that someone with a financial interest in a matter would fund a cut-out political group to promote those interests.
     
    Seriously, though, I’m in the conservative/libertarian part of the spectrum and I’m offended by Rastetter trying to pitch subsidies and tariffs as “conservative, free market ideals”.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      There are no real Libertarians in politics, just as there aren’t any “real” Communists.  Both systems assume an ideological purity that can’t exist because of human nature.
       
      So yes, you’re going to get various degrees of selling out on both sides.
       
      The problem is that you end up with people voting for the government that’s theoretically “nearest” to them on the left/right spectrum, despite that, for example, a Libertarian might have more in common with a Anarcho-Syndicalist than any Republican.

  • avatar

    Ronnie,
    I don’t think people on the right half of the spectrum have any monopoly on hypocrisy. Alas. It’s typical H. sapiens behavior.

  • avatar

    @Sugarbrie
    Your point is meaningless, or what medical scientists would call “anecdotal.” (Hint: anecdotal data is useless for determining things like which drugs are safe and effective.) For every wealthy dem you name, one can name a republican. Meg Whitman. Carly Fiorina (two actual candidates here!), Donald Trump, Rupert Murdoch, George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush (they’re loaded), Steve Forbes…
    Here’s some actual data:
    http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2007/10/22/income-and-voting/

  • avatar
    donkensler

    It’s pretty funny how, whenever things like this come up, the response is that all of those Reps in the House and Senate are really RINO’s and not real conservatives.  All we have to do is elect real conservatives and farm subsidies will be gone and we’ll eliminate the deficit by getting rid of foreign aid and waste and fraud, and we’ll get rid of the income tax while we’re at it.
    Sheer fantasy (not that Dems are any better as far as getting rid of farm welfare).  I might as well click my heels (contained in the ruby slippers) three times as hope that actual elected officials from either party will make meaningful efforts to reduce farm welfare, corporate welfare, or warfare welfare (AKA the Department of Defense).

  • avatar
    carguy

    The corn lobby is to Democrats what the oil industry is to Republicans. However, the amount of ethanol money pales in comparison to the amount of tax payer money spent on subsidizing the oil industry.

    I should also point out that for all the column inches that this website has dedicated to criticizing the ethanol industry, I can’t recall ever seeing a single editorial pointing out the billions we waste on subsidizing oil.

  • avatar
    cheezeweggie

    Funny how everything turns into political bashing.  All I ever hear is liberal vs. conservative.  What about the moderate middle class that have been taking it up the a$$ from both extremes of the political spectrum?  Corn ethanol has increased food costs and has reduced fuel economy.  Subsidies are a fact of political life along with political contributions (bribes).  Both “sides” do it for various reasons.   How many of you reacted with “Why dont we do it in this country?” when the news came out about alcohol production in Brasil?  Now you whine about subsidies that were necessary to jump start an industry that you are now bashing.   Perhaps in the new improved politically brain dead America, we can do absolutely nothing but lower taxes and avoid paying off the debt as we “trickle down” into a second class society.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      In both cases, these two things seem contradictory to one another, but especially in case of the reps. How is it that you want people to have as much as possible freedom (and responsibilty) to develop themselves economically but then go and try and ban, for instance, stem cell research, seems strange to me

      It really is painfully obvious to outsiders how lopsided the American political spectrum is, though I think you’re overstating the Republican commitment to free markets.  The Republican party is historically very corporatist; free-market support has been mostly lip-service.

      This is largely the result of the destruction of the Left, and especially the anarchist Left, in American politics.  There’s quite literally nothing like the European Social Democratic parties (the Democrats are far too corporatist) and absolutely nothing like any Labour or Green Party.

      The result is that this has allowed the Democrats to park themselves centre to centre-right (if you look at what the Democrats actually do, this is where they sit).  This got more dramatic under Clinton, Blair and the rest of the New (ahem) Left, but it’s been growing for a while.  This forced the Republicans into more and more extreme versions of Nixon’s southern doctrine because, quite frankly, social conservatism all that was left to them.  There was a glimmer of hope under H. George Bush, but it’s otherwise been further and further to the autocratic, prudish Right.

      If you had a real Left in the US, it would probably weaken the Democrats and give Libertarian Republicans who currently chafe under their party’s social prudishness  a chance to reclaim the social centre from the Democrats.  It’s kind of ironic, then, that the Republican push to crush labour has really done them more harm then good bby ceding three-quarters of the spectrum to the Democrats.    It’s only through dragging the whole sphere of discourse hideously right of centre that they’re able to survive at all, and I have real doubts that they’ll survive a term of two of Tea Party-induced quackery.

      Not that any of this matters, though, as the benefactors of this duopoly do very well by keeping the menu restricted to coporatist Right and corporatist ultra-Right.

    • 0 avatar
      joeaverage

      psarhjinian – GOOD explanation and puts words to a growing frsutration that I have had but couldn’t really define well. Nobody I want to vote for b/c both parties are shades of the same thing.

  • avatar
    JJ

    What strikes me as odd in the US political spectrum as an outsider is that on one side, you have the republicans who advocate free market everything, but are very conservative when it comes to social issues (I guess because religious people have adopted the republican party as theirs and have a huge deal of influence) and on the other you have the democrats who are more ‘big state’ oriented but are more progressive on social issues.
     
    In both cases, these two things seem contradictory to one another, but especially in case of the reps. How is it that you want people to have as much as possible freedom (and responsibilty) to develop themselves economically but then go and try and ban, for instance, stem cell research, seems strange to me.
     
    Can’t there be a party with republican economic policy and democratic social freedom?

    • 0 avatar
      Patrickj

      JJ, a party with Republican economic policy and Democratic social freedom would be pretty close to the core of American politics.  However, after almost 150 years of locking themselves into the political system (often by name) the current parties are immovable, and almost certainly permanent.
      Any attempt at a change would leave one or the other of the incumbents in unchecked control for a generation or longer.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    The message of today’s Republican leadership is “don’t look at what we have done in the past, look at what we promise to do if you give us power again”. Hmmm, I’ve always been told to watch what a person does, not what they say.
     

  • avatar
    Engineer

    I should also point out that for all the column inches that this website has dedicated to criticizing the ethanol industry, I can’t recall ever seeing a single editorial pointing out the billions we waste on subsidizing oil.
    Yes, what is more fun than knocking around those #@$$%^%^ at Big Oil? Except, unlike many other industries (including auto, finance and ethanol, to name a few of those ‘apple pie’ examples), Big Oil has yet to ask Uncle Sam for a bailout. No matter how bad things get (and in the 90s it was very bad), they somehow slug it out. Pity that isn’t the American way anymore.

    Not sure what subsidies you are referring to. The break on royalties that a Democratic president (Clinton) enacted because he feared Big Oil might give up drilling in the Gulf of Mexico? Sure. let’s blame Big Oil for Clinton’s cowardace. War in Iraq? Yeah, that worked swell. How come we gave them back their oil industry? How did Dick Cheney let that happen?

    Ethanol = garbage fuel. I think of better uses for it. Prost!

    No reason to give up on making fuel from waste. But we also need to realize that it may not be feasible.
    The technology exists. One example would be gasification followed by Fischer-Tropsch.

    Making it affordable – now there’s a challenge…

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      Big Oil has yet to ask Uncle Sam for a bailout

      Big Oil sees much of it’s costs externalized (or socialized).  Energy security and environmental repercussions are largely not their problem, though carbon taxation stands to fix the latter.

      Ask yourself what oil would cost if you had to extract it from places where security wasn’t an issue, and if you had to pay upfront for the cost of extraction in it’s price, rather than downloading it into social costs.  You’d be stuck with Canada as your only source, and you’d be paying five times the price at least.

      More industries and groups than you think benefit from government largess.  The problem is that people only complain about the ones they don’t like.

  • avatar
    Engineer

    Big Oil sees much of it’s costs externalized (or socialized).
    True. Can you name even one politician that would be interested in having an honest discussion about that topic? I see a bunch of cowards, whether it’s from the “Drill, baby, drill” side or the green-jobs side. The point being, that it seems harsh to blame Big Oil for Washington politicians’ lack of spine.

    Ask yourself what oil would cost if you had to extract it from places where security wasn’t an issue, and if you had to pay upfront for the cost of extraction in it’s price, rather than downloading it into social costs.
    He he he. Let’s not even start that discussion. Which country did 15 of the 19 hijackers come from? What did we do about it? Same as we always do: Demand more oil. For a reasonable price, of course. Plus our president will hold your king’s hand, like a nerd on prom night…


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Subscribe without commenting

Recent Comments

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Contributing Writers

  • Jack Baruth, United States
  • Brendan McAleer, Canada
  • Marcelo De Vasconcellos, Brazil
  • Vojta Dobes, Czech Republic
  • Matthias Gasnier, Australia
  • W. Christian 'Mental' Ward, Abu Dhabi
  • Mark Stevenson, Canada
  • Cameron Aubernon, United States
  • J Emerson, United States