The ethanol lobby is a paper tiger, and Ted Cruz just tore it to shreds.
Cruz, the country's most famous enemy of the federal ethanol mandate, just won Iowa, winning more votes than any person in the history of the caucuses.
Cruz thus busted the myth that you can't mess with the ethanol lobby and still win Iowa. The lesson goes beyond ethanol: The only constituency for corporate welfare is on K Street.
Politicians are fooled into thinking corporate welfare is important to voters because politicians spend an inordinate amount of time with the powerful people to whom corporate welfare is vitally important. That's why every candidate who has tried to win Iowa has prostrated him or herself before ethanol.
They thought they had to. Cruz proved they didn't.
Cruz campaigned on a five-year wind-down of ethanol. Other candidates, like Jeb Bush, said they would consider winding down the mandate in 2022 — during a presumptive second term. Cruz's plan involves a 20 percent reduction of the mandate in his first year in office, and the same cut each year until it zeroes out.