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Statement by Governor Pawlenty on Ethanol

May 23, 2011

"One of the immutable laws of modern American politics is that no candidate who wants to win the Iowa Presidential caucuses can afford to oppose subsidies for ethanol. So it's notable—make that downright amazing—that former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty launched his campaign for the Republican Presidential nomination Monday by including a challenge to King Corn.

"The truth about federal energy subsidies, including federal subsidies for ethanol, is that they have to be phased out," Mr. Pawlenty told a crowd in Des Moines. "We simply can't afford them anymore."

He's certainly right about that, though that hasn't stopped nearly every other candidate from deploring the federal deficit while supporting the most egregious of corporate welfare subsidies. This marks a change for Mr. Pawlenty, who over two terms leading Iowa's northern neighbor first fought farmers on subsidies but later supported their push for a 20% ethanol mandate for gasoline. But in refusing to stick to the script for candidates looking to harvest votes in February's Iowa caucuses, Mr. Pawlenty has passed an early test of fortitude. By opposing ethanol despite the political risks, Mr. Pawlenty will also gain credibility to tackle other energy subsidies that drain the federal fisc to little good effect.

Intriguingly, Mr. Pawlenty said he's also ready to take on other taboos of modern politics. "Conventional wisdom says you can't talk about ethanol in Iowa or Social Security in Florida or financial reform on Wall Street," he said. "But someone has to say it." Maybe this Presidential season will be more interesting than we've imagined."

Tim Pawlenty, Statement by Governor Pawlenty on Ethanol Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/296672

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