Charles Krauthammer compares it to a doctor strangling a patient while simultaneously administering oxygen. That’s what happened yesterday when President Obama granted the EPA the authority to review California’s request to have stricter emissions and fuel-efficiency standards on the auto industry. To point out the obvious, none of our automakers are based in California.
Congress has already established federal standards for emissions and fuel-efficiency. This was done in 2007 under a Democrat congress. But California, and a few other states, wanted stricter standards so they applied for a waiver from the rules to impose their stricter standards. Bush refused, stating that federal standards should be federal and any changes should come from Congress to avoid undue burden on the auto industry. Obama has reversed that policy which now basically allows California – one state in 50 – to set the federal standard.
The auto industry says the latest move will be quite damaging to their industry because they will have to comply with two sets of rules. This means more cost, which means more expensive vehicles, which means more difficulty competing in a competitive market, which means sales will suffer. The US auto industry is already on the brink of collapse. They have been given billions in bailout money, most of it already gone, and they will no doubt be asking for more. The new rules just may end up being the death blow, should California get its way.
The double-speak is obvious, and perplexing. On one hand, Obama says the auto industry is vital to our economy and should get bailout money. Then he signs an order that effectively handcuffs them at a time when they can’t afford to be handcuffed. If bankruptcy for GM and Chrysler wasn’t inevitable before, it certainly is now.
I don’t think Obama is a dumb man, so I’m certain that he understands this. That tells me that he is so committed to the “undeniable” truth of human-induced climate change that he is willing to sacrifice major US industries to combat it. Which tells me that rejoining the Kyoto Treaty will be part of his agenda. Talk about economic disaster. In a time of recession, crippling US industry with Kyoto restrictions would be the financial equivalent of Hurricane Katrina. Hopefully that won’t happen for a while.
Bill Kristol suggested a simpler solution. Just increase the gas tax and offset it with cuts in payroll or income tax. That’s the more common sense method to decrease fuel use, thus cutting emissions and oil consumption. And even though Obama says his order is a step towards reducing foreign oil dependence, he has yet to make any effort or suggest support to increase domestic production, ie “drill, baby, drill”.
Instead he chooses to eviscerate an auto industry that is already hemorrhaging wildly. Well, I guess he said it best…”I won. I am the President”.