Obama really is a one-man wrecking crew when it comes to the America that we’ve all grown up in. Yesterday, with the nation’s attention focused elsewhere, he effectively dealt a crippling blow to the auto industry, via Raised on Hotcakes:
Just so we all know what happened, in the middle of the debt talks, in the middle of the markets dropping, in the middle of credit rating companies looking to downgrade the US bond rating, Obama gleefully enacts a standard that is twice the standard of today. As of yet, no major car company has shown the ability to meet the 2016 mandated standard of 35 mpg so why not push for an even higher standard?
Obama claims that these ridiculously unattainable standards were somehow a product of compromise with the auto makers, as if Detroit has any choice but to bend over and grab their ankles. This is nonsense, of course, as the above author explains:
Let’s be clear on something. CAFE standards are set by the government irrespective of the feelings and beliefs of the auto manufactures. The authority to enact the standards rests solely with the government. They are not set by two equal parties with similar interests coming to a negotiating table to work out a compromise. They are the result of the government saying to the car companies “we think that you can make cars that get ‘x’ miles per gallon” and the car companies telling the government why that goal may be unrealistic. This is not two entities coming to an agreement. This is the government saying “you’ll take it and you’ll like it.”
Leaving aside the fact that the fuel economy my car gets is nobody’s business, least of all Obama’s, the technology simply doesn’t exist for these standards to be met unless we’re forced to drive electric cars that don’t work and drastically reduce safety. As Reason’s Shikha Dalmia notes, every time CAFE standards are raised, cars become less safe:
But to the extent that carmakers have complied with CAFE, it is less through radical innovation and more by simply slashing vehicle weight. In the 15 years after CAFE standards were first introduced in 1974, vehicle weight diminished by 23 percent. But every 100-pound weight reduction results in a 4.7 to 5.6 percent increase in the fatality rate. A 2002 National Academy of Sciences study concluded that CAFE’s downsizing effect contributed to between 1,300 and 2,600 deaths in a single representative year, and to 10 times that many serious injuries.
But what’s a few lives if they’re sacrificed for the global warming cause. Al Gore, I’m sure, would think of them as martyrs or something. But there’s only so much more fuel economy that can be rung out by lowering vehicle weight, as Dalmia explains:
Even ignoring this loss of life, the era of improving fuel economy by slashing vehicle weight is drawing to a close. Indeed, Sean McAlinden, chief economist at the Center for Automotive Research, notes that it is technologically impossible to squeeze anything beyond 45 mpg in fuel economy from current vehicles. That’s why Europe’s fuel economy has plateaued at that level, despite $8 per gallon gas. The 56-mpg-mandate will require a total, top-to-bottom overhaul of cars. Every part of a vehicle from its transmission to its engine would have to be replaced. “Even a vehicle’s screws and fasteners would have to be secured with epoxy glue,” McAlinden maintains.
Fantastic. The cars of the future under Obama will be made of plastic, fiberglass, epoxy, and bondo. I can hardly wait. In a broader sense, what does this mean for the automakers and those of us who buy their prodicts? Why, this of course:
…the Obama CAFE standards will drive out pickups and other large vehicles, American automakers’ biggest profit makers, and usher in hybrids—their biggest money losers. That’s because pickups that are CAFE-compliant will be have to be constructed from aluminum or some equally light material, something that will bump their cost upwards of $80,000 per vehicle while rendering them useless for towing.
More hope and change from Obama. Auto makers will be forced to sell cars that lose money and I get to pay $80,000 for a car that’s essentially a death trap and can’t tow anything. I’m sure the boating and trailer industries, and their employees, are thrilled with Obama too. In the real world, far fewer people will have the financial capacity or inclination to pay $80,000 for a car that doesn’t work. But then maybe an American where we’re all forced to rely on public transportation staffed by public employee union members is really Obama’s goal. In any event, Dalmia notes that Obama’s destruction of the automobile industry can’t occur without an enormous display of generosity from the taxpayers. (The half that still pay taxes, that is.)
Meanwhile, even the Environmental Protection Agency admits that the market share made up by hybrids and electric plug-ins will have to touch 49 percent if the industry is to come anywhere near compliance. Given that these vehicles now occupy only 3 percent of the market despite hefty subsidies, it is a foregone conclusion that expanding their presence will mean massively expanding subsidies to them.
Taxpayers are going to be on the hook for more than just hybrids, however. Indeed, average vehicle prices will shoot through the roof, pricing many car buyers out of the market, shrinking the industry and jeopardizing millions of jobs. But if Washington could not resist showering taxpayer dollars on General Motors and Chrysler to prevent job losses now, it is unimaginable that it will sit back when the entire industry confronts a carmageddon. Indeed, the $100 billion that taxpayers have spent on the current bailout will look like chump change compared to what’s to come. This is making even the UAW nervous, causing it to join ranks with automakers to oppose the standards.
You know something is wrong if even the UAW smells a rat. But on the bright side, at least we can afford the massive new spending required to fund this scheme since the government coffers are flush under Obama’s brilliant stewardship of the federal budget. Oh wait. So, to sum this up, yesterday when nobody was paying attention, Obama decreed that CAFE standards must be 56.2 miles per gallon in a little over 13 years. This will effectively destroy what’s left of Detroit, and those of us who still pay taxes get to pay for it all. Dalmia puts it in perspective:
The administration’s proposal in one fell swoop manages to screw over taxpayers, drivers, car buyers and autoworkers. The least it can do is give lawmakers a chance to thoroughly weigh the tradeoffs on the country’s behalf. But the president is trying to impose the new standards through regulatory fiat without Congressional approval. No administration—blue or red—has ever done this before. This is tantamount to declaring war on autos without a formal declaration from Congress.
Someone needs to rein this president in.
Yes, someone does. Someone who is aware of the fact that we have more recoverable fossil fuel resources than any country on the planet, and that we don’t have to sacrifice our living standards on the altar of the man-made global warming hoax. Unfortunately, Obama still has 18 months to wreak havoc on our economy and, indeed, the American way of life. I don’t know about you, but I much prefer the thought of taking my family on our summer vacation in my trusty SUV than this:
Update: (h/t conservativemama) In an editorial, the Washington Examiner discusses the impact of CAFE standards on highway safety:
By far the worst result, however, will be the fact that thousands will die because Obama, fanatical Big Green environmentalists, and their allies in the federal bureaucracy care more about removing micro-amounts of emissions than they do about the safety and convenience of people on the roads. We know this because the fanatics persist despite the fact that for years government and private sector researchers alike have documented the terrible correlation between CAFE, lighter cars and highway deaths.
Many CAFE advocates claim the government can simply mandate additional safety equipment to counter the greater danger posed to occupants of lighter cars and trucks, but in doing so they concede the point that their favorite federal regulation exacts a terrible toll in return for comparatively meaningless benefits.
* Graphic above the fold courtesy of Raised on Hotcakes.