Erika Johnsen

Last week, two of the probable frontrunners of the 2012 GOP field both traveled to Iowa, that hotbed of agricultural special interest, and spoke about their respective views on ethanol subsides.

Tim Pawlenty: “The free market, not freebies from politicians, should decide a company’s success. So, as part of a larger reform, we need to phase out subsidies across all sources of energy and all industries, including ethanol. We simply can’t afford them anymore.” (Bold, honest, and right on target.)

Mitt Romney: "I support the subsidy of ethanol. I believe ethanol is an important part of our energy solution in this country." (More lame political blather.)

During a Pennsylvania stop on the national bus tour that is igniting much sensation and speculation, Sarah Palin seconded Tim Pawlenty’s courageous platform and called for the elimination of all federal energy subsidies.

"I think that all of our energy subsidies need to be relooked at today and eliminated," Palin told [Real Clear Politics] during a quick stop at a coffee shop in this picturesque town tucked into the south-central Pennsylvania countryside. "And we need to make sure that we're investing and allowing our businesses to invest in reliable energy products right now that aren't going to necessitate subsidies because, bottom line, we can't afford it."

If she runs for president, Palin plans to make energy issues a centerpiece of her campaign and will tout her record as governor on restructuring the oil tax regime in Alaska and initiating a massive natural gas pipeline project, which currently remains in limbo.

Her emphatic stance against ethanol subsidies may ruffle some feathers in the nation's first voting state of Iowa, but it will also win her kudos from fiscal conservatives who praised former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty when, in a speech announcing his candidacy in Des Moines, he called for the phasing out of the federal subsidies that cost taxpayers about $5 billion last year.

The fact that potential presidential candidates are willing to actually lead, eschewing the usual moonstruck positions on environmental and agricultural subsidies, is tremendous. Pawlenty and Palin are taking a strong stance against entrenched lobbies, telling the hard economic truths about government subsidies, and acting like conservatives instead of politicians. Green energy subsidies are among the most environmentally deceptive, economically damaging, politically obsequious programs around, and their social acceptability has been on auto-pilot for far too long. If Sarah Palin does not end up running for President, I will vigorously support her nomination as Secretary of Energy.


Erika Johnsen

Erika Johnsen is a Web Editor for Townhall.com and Townhall Magazine. Follow her on Twitter @erikajohnsen.