If Cruz wins Iowa, will Republicans stop pandering to special interests?
Every candidate who has won Iowa since 1980 has supported the hateful ethanol subsidies and/or mandate, which makes both fuel and food much more expensive for no good reason. But if Ted Cruz, who opposes the ethanol mandate, wins Iowa, which seems increasingly likely, does this mean that we will finally have a leader who has the strength to stop pandering to special interest groups?
Every Republican who has won the Iowa caucuses since 1980 has strongly backed ethanol. Bob Dole was known in 1988 and 1996 as “Senator Ethanol.” Citing his opposition to ethanol, John McCain basically bypassed the Hawkeye State in 2000 and 2008. George W. Bush followed through on his promise to “strongly support” the corn-for-energy industry, creating the Renewable Fuel Standard, which still requires refiners to mix a certain amount of ethanol into gasoline. Some credit Rick Santorum’s narrow Iowa victory in 2012 to his vocal support for biofuels, a flip-flop from his time in the Senate.
— Enter Ted Cruz. Insiders agree the Texas senator is the current frontrunner going into the Feb. 1 caucuses. He’s been unabashedly critical of federal support for ethanol, including the RFS, which he sees as market-distorting corporate welfare.
— Recognizing he poses an existential threat to the special benefits it receives from the government, the corn lobby is going all in to stop Cruz in Iowa.
If Cruz wins Iowa, it could become untenable for a Republican to embrace the RFS in 2020 and win over fiscal conservatives. Outside groups – and major donors – will be able to cite Cruz’s victory and refuse to be as forgiving as they have historically of a politician breaking with free-market orthodoxy in the name of political exigency.
“The ethanol mandate represents the kind of Washington insider politics that taxpayers hate,” Club for Growth President David McIntosh told the 202. “The fact that Sen. Cruz is leading in Iowa and has been clear in his opposition to the mandate should put all of the subsidy-hunting lobbyists on notice that their days are numbered.”
Meanwhile, the candidate who insists he is indebted to no one insists on embracing this corporate welfare:
Donald Trump, who has seen Cruz overtake him in the state, has unabashedly embraced ethanol. At a Des Moines rally two weeks ago, he surrounded himself on stage with ethanol proponents, all wearing green shirts.
Let's face it: the ethanol mandate should be the easiest form of corporate welfare to stop. It doesn't affect starving children or women; it doesn't involve racial issues; the main affected group are big, fat agri-businesses greedy for rules that will give them taxpayer money. Ted Cruz has also said that he wants to eliminate the IRS, the Department of Education, the Department of Commerce, the Department of Energy, and other bureaucracies.
When asked how he would balance the budget, Donald Trump merely says he will bring jobs back to America, and that will increase revenues. He has never talked about cutting the size of government. That's regrettable.
This article was written by Ed Straker, senior writer of NewsMachete.com, the conservative news site.