Presidential Pols Cave to Iowa's Ethanol Aspirations

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago

Iowa. Corn. Ethanol. Federal subsidies. Presidential primary. You don't have to be a professional political pundit to connect those dots, but you'd have to be a pretty brave pol to look Iowans in the eye and say "no" to their federally-funded ethanol dreams. As The Boston Globe reports, that would be John McCain, whose low standing in the Tall Corn State's polls may have a little something to do with this statement: ""I trust Americans. I trust markets. And I oppose subsidies." This despite the fact that a "recent poll" (nice attribution there Globe) showed 92 percent of Iowans consider ethanol essential to the state's economic future. No wonder The Hunt for Red States' Fred Thompson changed his tune from anti to pro-ethanol a few weeks ago, declaring ""It's a matter now of national security." (Now that he needs the votes.) The Big Three Dems are all on board the ethanol express, which already pumps $2b of your hard-earned federal tax dollars into Iowa's ethanol industry.

Robert Farago
Robert Farago

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  • Nschock Nschock on Nov 27, 2007

    Just curious: could you name one energy source in the U.S. that is not subsidized? It's amazing how much conversation is devoted to ethanol subsidies. What about nuclear? Coal? Wind? Solar? Oil? Are those okay?

  • Kevin Kevin on Nov 27, 2007

    I wish the government subsidized my own product. In fact I'm sure I deserve it. It's all about national security (in a very roundabout way). Where's MY lobbyist??

  • Shaker Shaker on Nov 27, 2007

    I wonder if ADM's "Feed the World" apology ads will change to "Fuel the USA". And I thought Fred Thompson was a "different" kind of politician... oh well.

  • David C. Holzman David C. Holzman on Nov 27, 2007

    McCain gets a lot of points for standing against the political wind of Iowa. I am disappointed in Fred Thompson and disappointed in the dems, especially Edwards, though I am not at all surprised at Hillary. re nshock's question: yes, all energy sources are subsidized, but some (fossil and nuclear) much, much, much more than others (solar, wind, marine). (for info on the latter, see my article in Environmental Health Perspectives when the December issue comes out--probably in a few days. go to Too add a little perspective to the subsidy issue, externalities can be thought of as subsidies, because they are costs which everyone picks up. The externalities of fossil fuels and nuclear, and corn-based ethanol as well as many other biofuels) are far higher than those of solar, wind, and marine.