Iowa Republican Senate candidate Joni Ernst, to her discredit, supports the federal ethanol mandate. In fact, she is lobbying the Obama administration to increase the mandate, known as the Renewable Fuel Standard or RFS.

Ernst wrote in a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency, "the RFS ensures our national fuel supply provides increased consumer choice, less dependence on foreign oil, improves the environment, and creates jobs for those in my home state of Iowa — and across the country.”

The ethanol mandate doesn't primarily benefit corn growers — it basically benefits the big energy companies that turn the corn squeezins into a less efficient version of gasoline.

A Republican pushing the government to expand corporate welfare. How does her Democratic opponent respond? By attacking her for not supporting the corporate welfare enough.

Ernst's campaign, you see, tried to square her support for ethanol corporate welfare with her professed belief in free enterprise. To do so, they gave the typical lame response Republicans give when supporting corporate welfare: “In a perfect world, in a free market, [Ernst] would support doing away with [the RFS], but that’s not the case,” her campaign spokesman said.

Democrat Bruce Braley's campaign went nuts at the notion that Ernst didn't hold to energy subsidies as a first principle:

“In a perfect world, in a free market, [Ernst] would support doing away with (the RFS)” –Sioux City Journal

To clarify, this is what is included in Ernst’s “perfect world:”

The Renewable Fuel Standard would be eliminated

75,000 Iowa jobs, and more than $5 billion in annual wages, would be threatened

Ernst’s big oil supporters like the Koch Brothers and ExonnMobil would benefit, while Iowa workers and rural communities would suffer

Important innovation promoted by the RFS would be halted, and America’s dependence on foreign oil would be increased

“Joni Ernst’s ‘perfect world’ is a nightmare for Iowa’s economy and the nearly 75,000 Iowans whose jobs are supported by the Renewable Fuel Standard in the real world”

The irony of the Braley's Koch brothers attack line: The Kochs own Iowa's second-largest ethanol processing plant, making them one of the biggest Iowa beneficiaries of the ethanol mandate.