Boots & Sabers

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2153, 07 Mar 15

Walker Flips on Ethanol

This is frustrating.

In the moderated discussion with ethanol magnate Bruce Rastetter, Walker dropped his previous flat opposition to ethanol mandates, offering a new stance that’s well-suited to a state covered in cornfields. Walker signaled he now favors keeping the mandate for now and phasing it outin the future — without saying over what period of time.

“It’s an access issue, and so it’s something I’m willing to go forward on continuing the Renewable Fuel Standard and pressing the EPA to make sure there’s certainty in terms of the blend levels set,” Walker said. “Now, long term — we’ve talked about this before as well — my goal would be to get to a point where we directly address those market access issues and I think that’s a part of the challenge. So that eventually you didn’t need to have a standard.”

Walker, a past critic of ethanol, acknowledged in January that he would have to spell out his position on the issue as part of his likely presidential bid. In other key issues for Iowa, Walker said that he favored drawing down federal tax credits for wind power over time and opposed mandatory labeling of foods made from genetically modified crops.

“This is one of those where I believe it’s served its purpose,” Walker said of the credits. “I would support phasing that out over a period of time.”

When Walker arrived in this state for his breakout speech at the Iowa Freedom Summit in January, he was a candidate with more potential than organization or momentum. Now he has staff and an office in the state, a national campaign apparatus and a leading position in many polls.

Increasingly, he is adopting positions, such as supporting ethanol incentives, that fit the needs of his likely presidential campaign even if they are inconsistent with all of his past stances.

Not only is it just a bad policy position, it’s s stupid political stance for Walker. He has made his reputation on being an “unintimidated” conservative and has won three statewide elections in a blue state because of it. It wasn’t just his conservative positions, but the feeling that voters had that Walker would stand by what he said. His waffling and changing positions to appease people for his presidential run undermines both political foundations. If he keeps this up, he’ll win the Iowa corn farmers, perhaps, but he will erode his overall base.


2153, 07 March 2015


  1. Rick

    I have been disappointed in him the last couple of weeks. I had hopes he would be different. Instead of distinguishing himself, he has been taking more stands that make him the same as every other Republican in the field.

    I think we are starting to see the stamps of national level handlers on him.

  2. Northern Pike

    Actually, the ethanol stance is very consistent with Wisconsin Teapublicanism: Punish enemies, reward friends.

    Social Security and Medicare will swallow the country whole, but nobody under age 55 will be inconvenienced by any reforms.

    Labor unions are the scourge of the economy and enemies of freedom, but police and firefighters get to keep their closed shops.

    Tax credits for sissy wind and solar are bad, but subsidies for real Americans who grow corn are good.

    The unemployed must pee in a cup, but anyone who gets taxpayer money from WEDC receive their cash with zero accountability or humiliation.

    That’s why Walker’s position on ethanol subsidies doesn’t surprise me one bit. I’m just surprised that people are surprised.

  3. Mark Maley

    Well said NP

  4. Kevin Scheunemann

    Pike and Mark,

    I figured you would be happy that Walker supports liberal subsidy of something.

    Are you guys turning conservative on ethanol subsidy?

  5. Mark Maley

    Happy to see the Governor join John Kerry’s ranks in flip flopery

    ” I was against ethanol support before I was for it ”

    Naked political ambition is such an ugly thing – especially in principled Conservaties

  6. Kevin Scheunemann


    So when Obama did it on gay marriage…wasn’t that flip flopery like John Kerry?

    John Kerry only got in trouble on it because he was dumb enough to say he voted for it, before he voted against it. Since Walker never really had a straight vote on ethanol, and never came out to talk about any vote like John Kerry did, its not quite on John Kerry level of foolishness.

    Walker is still wrong for suppporting this liberal subsidy, but it will not be much of an issue for many conservatives.

    Compared to the reform Walker has gotten done and could get done as president, still a yawner issue for me.

  7. Northern Pike

    Actually, it’s not a liberal subsidy, it goes to big corporate agribusiness. That makes it a conservative subsidy. Liberals like Michael Kinsley have hated it for three decades.

    Teapublicans don’t mind spend and redistribute, as long as the beneficiaries are THEIR voters and THEIR campaign contributors.

  8. dad29

    Actually, principled Conservatives have hated this since the beginning, too. See, e.g., Tim Carney at the Wash. Examiner.

    By the way, Ted Cruz made a damn fool out of WishyWashyWalker on that issue today.

  9. Northern Pike

    I’ll throw an olive branch to the conservatives on this board — we seem to agree on farm policy.

    I’d rather have Owen running our country’s farm policy than the typical Republican officeholder (Scott Walker included).

  10. Kevin Scheunemann


    I’ll agree with you, but this subsidy was largely driven (I do agree some Republicans bear responsibility as well) from liberal side of aisle on fear mongering that world is running out of oil. That is simply a false proposition because technology makes resources more efficient and allows more access to those resources.

    To me, the best argument against ethanol subsidy is that using corn for fuel drives price of corn up which cause people in the third world to be able to afford corn driven food.

  11. Kevin Scheunemann

    That should read “…NOT to be able to afford corn driven food.”

  12. bajaskier

    I didn’t realize Boots & Sabers was back! Yea!

    On the subject: I assume Scott doesn’t have a boat, or a lawn mower, or a snowblower, or a chain saw, or an edger, or a leaf blower or……

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