Well this is certainly disappointing. With all of the newly emerging candidates running around the early primary and caucus states talking to anyone who will listen it gets difficult to keep track of them all. But there’s one bit of news out of Iowa from earlier this week which is definitely worth a quick rewind and a better look. Newly announced presidential contender Ben Carson was out talking to the Cornhuskers and the inevitable subjects of ethanol, the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and subsidies for King Corn came up. The answer from the esteemed neurosurgeon was dismaying even compared to some of the other pandering we’ve seen previously.
He started out on a fairly good note:
Carson, in his first speech in the state as a candidate, was asked by a voter about the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), the federal mandate that fuel refiners blend a certain volume of ethanol and biodiesel into their gasoline and diesel supplies.
“I don’t particularly like the idea of government subsidies for anything because it interferes with the natural free market,” Carson said, according to The Des Moines Register.
Not bad. Subsidies in general are detrimental. If he’d only stopped there. But sadly, he didn’t.
“Therefore, I would probably be in favor of taking that $4 billion a year we spend on oil subsidies and using that in new fueling stations” for 30 percent ethanol blends, he added.
How much wrong can you package into just one sentence? First of all… thirty percent blends? We’re fighting like mad to hold the line against E-15 as it is. I don’t even need to go back over all the reasons why yet again in this article. But let’s move on to the other half of that pitch.
He’s suggesting cutting subsidies for domestic energy companies in the oil and gas industry. Not for everyone, mind you. Just them. And then reallocating that money away from fossil fuels and into ethanol processing. Just five seconds before that Carson had been claiming that he didn’t want anyone interfering with the free market, but now he’s saying to cherry pick one specific set of companies in the energy sector, remove a subsidy from them, and then redirect it to benefit the ethanol industry? It’s difficult to imagine a more egregious example of the government picking winners and losers, with the winners just happening to be in the first caucus state.
Second, calling out the “subsidies for Big Oil” is the language of the Left, and as usual it’s complete horse hockey. As anyone who follows this topic knows, the subsidies received by oil and gas companies are not specific to them. They are precisely the same as subsidies given to almost anyone who sells anything, including Apple and Microsoft among so many others. In fact, you couldn’t just cancel the subsidies to the fossil fuel segment of the energy industry without rewriting the rules entirely just to exclude them. That’s a left wing, anti-energy talking point and Carson should be embarrassed to be saying it in front of an ostensibly conservative crowd.
If you want to have a discussion about removing all subsidies across the board, then fine. We’re all ears. Carly Fiorina has proposed the same thing and it’s a worthy topic of debate. But when you start talking about just picking the pockets of oil and gas developers and using it to pay for ethanol, you may as well be running for the Democrat nomination. Poor showing, Dr. Carson.