Democratic arrogance was on full display this week when Senator Harry Reid kicked a struggling U.S. auto industry with onerous new mileage mandates and then said it was good for them.
Reid lectured that a forty percent increase to 35 mpg by 2020 (hitting 52 mpg by 2030) isn’t “aggressive,” despite industry howls that the legislation is extreme. “Perhaps if they had joined us instead of fighting us these last 20 years, they might not be in the financial mess they’re in today,” Reid said, implying that Detroit’s woes are due to a lack of fuel efficient cars. “But now is their chance to do the right thing — both for their bottom line and for the American people.
What a crock.
First, the U.S. auto industry is in trouble because the Democratic Party’s biggest special interest — labor unions — cost American automakers a whopping $1,500 per vehicle in wage and health costs over foreign competitors like non-union Toyota. Though the Big Three make plenty of fuel-efficient cars, they cannot make money on them with labor overhead so high. Only $7000 profit margins on Reid’s hated light trucks have kept Detroit — and their union workforce — afloat.
Second, auto industry sales of SUVs (including gas-guzzling Japanese models) have skyrocketed because gas is cheap and Americans demand them. If Reid and his colleagues really wanted to effect fuel consumption, they would tax gas to $7 a gallon as European nations have done. But Democrats are spineless, and prefer to enact backdoor mandates on industry to deflect their political pain.
Finally, Reid presumes to lecture automakers on their own history.
“In 1908 Henry Ford introduced the Model T, and Americans took to the roads,” Reid said. “If we could build an automobile that connected millions of travelers — and we did — surely today we can build one that runs on renewable power. We must return to our endless well of ingenuity and we must turn to the endless sources of renewable energy all around us. To set a new course that will keep us safe, grow our economy, and protect the planet that we call home.”
Of course, it’s Ford’s ingenuity that invented the gas engine, a vastly superior technology to steam and electrics that has given Americans unprecedented freedom. It remains superior today (along with oil-cousin diesel) even against new challengers like biofuel.
If only Washington’s political class could be as useful.