Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Tim Pawlenty "Truth" Campaign May Disappear into the Iowa Corn

Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty officially opened his "A Time for Truth" campaign for President this Monday in Des Moines, Iowa.

Tim is one of those politicians who can't wait to get out of office and out of state to diss their former constituents. He even used the ugly "L" word, "I love my state but let's face it: it's one of the most liberal states in the union."

His speech hit on one truth: "Conventional wisdom says you can't talk about ethanol in Iowa or Social Security in Florida or financial reform on Wall Street."

A smart politician will talk about ending ethanol subsidies on Wall Street, financial reform in Iowa, and won't ever talk about Social Security cuts. Tim is not a smart politician and here is what he offered Iowa:

"The truth about federal energy subsidies, including federal subsidies for ethanol, is that they have to be phased out. We need to do it gradually. We need to do it fairly. But we need to do it.
It can't be done overnight. The industry has made large investments, and it wouldn't be fair to pull the rug out from under it immediately. But we must face the truth that if we want to invite more competition, more investment, and more innovation into an industry - we need to get government out. We also need the government out of the business of handing out favors and special deals. The free market, not freebies from politicians, should decide a company's success. So, as part of a larger reform, we need to phase out subsidies across all sources of energy and all industries, including ethanol. We simply can't afford them anymore."
That's a pretty bold statement when relatively small money on ethanol subsidies has fostered a new biofuels industry, fostered enormous innovation, and is creating jobs and remaking American agriculture. Because the only thing worse than having the rug yanked out from under you immediately is to have it yanked out slowly.

Tim plans to go to Wall Street and tell them they won't be getting any more bailouts (but will he tell them he'll be breaking up their businesses so none are too big to fail?). And then it's on to Florida to tell affluent retirees who could afford to retire to the Sunshine State that they won't be getting all their cost-of living adjustments (not exactly the complete phaseout he is promising Iowa corn and ethanol producers, but still not likely to get much shine in Florida).

He'll stop by a few high school graduations, and "tell young people the truth that over time and for them only, we're going to gradually raise their Social Security retirement age." How we can balance the budget now by cutting retirement benefits that won't be payable for fifty years is a "truth" beyond my comprehension.

Next, I imagine Tim Pawlenty will address the Girl Scouts and tell them we can no longer afford to subsidize them by buying their cookies.

Update: The Wall Street Journal editiorial page is praising Tim Pawlenty for his opposition to ethanol, no surprise there. Someone how this stance is said to "gain credibility" in tackling the deficit, even though ethanol is just a kernel in the bushels and bushels of red ink. It's not really credible to start with the kernel and not the bushel.

In the federal budget, ethanol doesn't even cost a penny, it's like one sixth of a penny. We are paying for it out of the penny jar, with lots of pennies left over for other things. We should be so lucky if other federal programs were so effective, or so cheap.

Here's the real truth about ethanol, to borrow from Iowa Republican Senator Charles Grassley: "it's good for our national security, it's good for our environment, and it's good for good-paying jobs."

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