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Krugman Dishonesty Watch

4:25 PM, Apr 7, 2008 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
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Paul Krugman denounces "demon ethanol" in his New York Times column today:

[E]ven on optimistic estimates, producing a gallon of ethanol from corn uses most of the energy the gallon contains....

And meanwhile, land used to grow biofuel feedstock is land not available to grow food, so subsidies to biofuels are a major factor in the food crisis. You might put it this way: people are starving in Africa so that American politicians can court votes in farm states.

Oh, and in case you're wondering: all the remaining presidential contenders are terrible on this issue.

Actually, in case you're wondering, Obama and Clinton support ethanol subsidies, but McCain has consistently opposed subsidizing ethanol (though he has softened his rhetoric). Here's an excerpt from a speech McCain delivered in Iowa (!) last November:

Yes, I oppose subsidies. Not just ethanol subsidies. Subsidies. And not just in Iowa either. I oppose them in my own state of Arizona. ... [I]t also means no rifle-shot tax breaks for big oil. It means no line items for hydrogen, no mandates for other renewable fuels, and no big-government debacles like the Dakotas Synfuels plant. It means ethanol entrepreneurs get a level playing field to make their case -- and earn their profits.

McCain went on to argue, however, that his support of a cap-and-trade system for "carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions" would provide a "a powerful incentive" for producing "alternatives to oil such as ethanol." A cap and trade system may be a very bad idea, but it's a position McCain shares with Krugman, who has lamented: "Where's the organized, powerful constituency for ...a cap-and-trade system on carbon dioxide emissions?"

So, McCain is objectively quite good on ethanol and seemingly perfect from Krugman's perspective. But I doubt we'll see Krugman writing anytime soon that Obama wants to steal bread from the mouths of starving African children in order to beat McCain in the Midwest.