Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio says he supports the so-called ethanol mandate -- now that it’s in place, but he favors letting it expire seven years from now. “The Renewable Fuels Standard is not something that I would have voted for had I been in the Senate, but it is now existing law and I think it would be unfair to simply yank it away from people that have made investments based on its existence,” Rubio says.
Marco Rubio has a dilemma. The Florida senator clearly wants to win the Iowa Republican caucuses, which would help propel him to his party's presidential nomination. He also wants to defend his far-right policy priorities, which means opposing the ethanol mandate and taking aim at the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).
The trouble, of course, is that those two goals are occasionally in conflict. The RFS is quite popular in Iowa, but it's also plainly at odds with Rubio's conservative agenda.
Threading this needle isn't easy, and Radio Iowa reported this morning on the line the senator has come up with.
As pandering goes, this talking point is almost plausible. Rubio doesn't like the RFS and wouldn't have voted for it when Congress approved the policy in 2005 (five years before Rubio was elected). He realizes, however, that the policy exists; it's popular; people have come to rely on it; and it's not reasonable for a Republican administration to simply "yank" the policy away from Americans to satisfy an ideological goal.
But couldn't this same principle have broad applications?
Take another look at Rubio's quote, but this time, let's swap in an entirely different policy: “The [Affordable Care Act] is not something that I would have voted for had I been in the Senate, but it is now existing law and I think it would be unfair to simply yank it away from people that have made investments based on its existence."
When the issue is ethanol, Rubio believes this approach is perfectly sound. When the issue is health security for tens of millions of families, Rubio is convinced the approach is nonsense.
It's funny what a competitive primary process does to principles, isn't it?