CORN STARCH….E.J. Dionne notes that although the Republican presidential candidates are usually full of blustery talk about the evils of big government, they’re a wee bit more cagey when it comes to specific examples that might be unpopular in early primary states:

Oh, yes, the candidates were all for big spending cuts — but only of the vague, across-the-board variety. When the brave foes of Washington’s largess were confronted with a question about eliminating farm subsidies, they morphed into big-government guys.

Bold about slashing budgets earlier in the debate, Giuliani was judiciousness itself when it came to farmers. Farm spending cuts, he insisted, should not be done “simplistically.” No, no, “we’ve got to do this very carefully.”

Romney, who kept coming back to the dangers of runaway government outlays, insisted that farm subsidies were different because “it’s important for us to make sure that our farmers are able to stay on the farm.” Romney helpfully explained all this opportunism by ticking off the list of states besides Iowa, home of the first presidential nominating caucus, where farmers loom large. He sounded as if he were merrily counting delegate votes in his head.

Plus, guarding our precious food supply is a national security issue. Also a basic matter of anti-Europe fairness. And a boon for struggling family farmers. Uh huh.

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