I’ve been hearing a lot of John Thune buzz from conservatives in the blogosphere and on Twitter. Thune is a Republican Senator from South Dakota who has managed to work himself into the 2012 mix. He has some support among the folks on Red State, which is one of the more influential right-wing blogs, gotten some notice from the MSM as well, and is well-liked by plenty of influential party insiders.
However, his move this week to grab some of that sweet, sweet corporate handout money is going to put a considerable dent in his chances. He, along with a number of other Midwestern Senators from both parties signed a letter asking Senators Reid and McConnell to continue government subsidies for corn ethanol. The subsides will come to about $5 billion, not a small amount at a time when voters have demanded that austerity become Washington’s watchword.
Thune’s move to preserve the subsidies isn’t based in science or sound energy policy, but politics and corporate influence. As Ronald Baley notes in this article, corn ethanol has played havoc with food cost and supply and hasn’t reduced our oil imports by a single barrel. There is no indication that corn ethanol is better for the environment either; in fact, the opposite is true. The High Priest of the Cult of Global Warming himself, Al Gore, has admitted that corn ethanol is a poor substitute for what we currently use and that his decision to dump our money into an expensive subsidy was entirely political.
If Al Gore can admit this, then so should John Thune, at least if he has any hope of being our next President. No conservative should support, much less beg for, taxpayer handouts, no matter the recipient. Thune needs to get right on this, and retract his name from that letter.