Planet Gore

Shutdown Averted: Dems Go to Wall for Super-Rich

Before FEMA found some money in its mattress to fund disaster relief, Harry Reid’s Senate Democrats were ready to shut down the federal government Monday over — as AP put it — “$1.5 billion in cuts from a government program to help car companies build more fuel-efficient vehicles.”

The truth is much more interesting that AP’s stale prose.

What is so crucial about the “Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Loan Program” (so-called DOE Section 136) that almost brought Washington to a screeching halt? A program that Michigan Democratic Senator Debbie Stabenow said would “help businesses create jobs here”?

The program gives money to some of the richest corporations in America to subsidize cars they would build anyway. A sampler:

‐The program loaned $529 million to millionaire Henrik Fisker to retool a Delaware plant (Biden photo-op!) to build his luxury Nina for the rich.  Estimated cost of the new electric chariot? $50 grand.

‐The program has loaned $465 million to PayPal millionaire Elon Musk’s Tesla Motors, which is retooling a shuttered California factory (Pelosi photo op!) to build the $57,000 Tesla Model S electric as well as battery packs for Mercedes.

‐Another $6 million went to Ford to retool its Chicago Assembly Plant to build its bread-and-butter Ford Explorer SUV, a truck that has always been built in the U.S. (Ford only builds compact cars in Mexico). How did millions in taxpayer money designated for “advanced fuel-efficient technology” wind up in a mainstream Big Auto SUV? Because the new, 2011, V-6 powered Explorer gets 20 percent better fuel mileage than the old, 2010 V-8 powered Explorer (20 MPG vs. 17 MPG) — and because it too made for a great photo-op for Chicago-native Obama himself.

So a Democratic Party that is currently blaming federal red ink on rich corporations not paying their fair share just threatened to shut down the government if fat subsidies for rich corporations were cut off.

Your tax dollars at work.

Henry Payne — Henry Payne is the auto critic for the Detroit News.

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