Sen. Ted Cruz was asked Thursday night by a Fox News debate moderator about his stance on ethanol. In the course of asking the question, Chris Wallace pointed out that Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, a Republican, has said Cruz should be defeated.
Of course Terry Branstad thinks Ted Cruz should be defeated. Branstad isn’t looking out for the interests of Iowa, he’s looking out for his own interests.
CNN reported on January 19 that Branstad told a gathering of renewable fuels industry representatives, “It would be a big mistake for Iowa to support [Cruz].” Asked if that meant he wanted Cruz to lose in Iowa, the governor of 21 years said, “Yes.”
You see, Gov. Branstad’s son is Eric Branstad, one of the leaders of America’s Renewable Future, a group that demands candidates in Iowa support ethanol subsidies. While lobbying for welfare checks from Washington, the organization is running an independent effort to attack any candidate who dares to not bow down to federal ethanol subsidies and mandates.
With the slogan “I’m caucusing for ethanol in 2016,” America’s Renewable Future is urging Iowans to become single-issue voters who ignore issues such as religious liberty, the right to life, judicial nominations, and national security. Such a cynical appeal to vote in favor of a welfare check at the expense of all other issues is a grotesque tactic, and one that assumes Iowa Republicans don’t care about anything but the highest bidder.
So far, the younger Branstad’s biggest target has been Ted Cruz.
That’s because Ted Cruz won’t bow down to ethanol.
As National Review has pointed out, federal subsidies for ethanol started under President Jimmy Carter, hardly a president known for policies that Republicans like. They have continued to this day thanks in part to the gatekeepers of presidential politics: Iowa voters, and politicians who have so far refused to shoot straight with them about the impact of the subsidies. It takes guts to point out in an ethanol-loving state that government subsidies are a form of dependence that elevate one citizen’s work above another’s and puts government – not free markets – in the business of picking winners and losers.
Right now Iowans are being told that Cruz is opposed to ethanol. One Iowa farmer even got an editorial placed in The Hill that blasted Cruz because, “he has pushed harmful policies that undermine a major Iowa industry.”
True, Cruz has said ethanol subsidies should end. But he is not opposed to ethanol. As he pointed out on the Fox News debate stage Thursday night, he believes that just as federal subsidies for ethanol must end, so too should federal regulations that make it more difficult for fuel companies to increase the amount of ethanol they use in fuel blends.
In a Des Moines Register editorial last year, Cruz noted:
“My view on energy is simple: We should pursue an ‘all of the above’ policy. We should embrace all of the energy resources with which God has blessed America: oil and gas, coal, nuclear, wind, solar, and biofuels and ethanol. But Washington shouldn’t be picking winners and losers.”
Sure, lobbyists like Eric Branstad and career politicians like his dad, the 21-year governor of Iowa, aren’t going to like it when Cruz says, “That’s why my tax plan ends all energy subsidies and mandates. No Washington favoritism for oil and gas, for wind, for solar, or for anyone else.” But that’s okay, because at least of all the candidates running for the GOP nomination, Ted Cruz has had the honesty to let Iowans know where he stands, and has had the faith to trust that Iowa voters aren’t cynical people who vote on the basis of a single special interest issue.