« | »

What Obama Wants From Auto Makers

From Mr. Obama’s 2006 second autobiography, The Audacity Of Hope, pp 98-100:

THE LAST CRITICAL investment we need to make America more competitive is in an energy infrastructure that can move us toward energy independence. In the past, war or a direct threat to national security has shaken America out of its complacency and led to bigger investments in education and science, all with an eye toward minimizing our vulnerabilities. That’s what happened at the height of the Cold War, when the launching of the satellite Sputnik led to fears that the Soviets were slipping ahead of us technologically. In response, President Eisenhower doubled federal aid to education and provided an entire generation of scientists and engineers the training they needed to lead revolutionary advances. That same year, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, was formed, providing billions of dollars to basic research that would eventually help create the Internet, bar codes, and computer-aided design. And in 1961, President Kennedy would launch the Apollo space program, further inspiring young people across the country to enter the New Frontier of science.

Our current situation demands that we take the same approach with energy. It’s hard to overstate the degree to which our addiction to oil undermines our future. According to the National Commission on Energy Policy, without any changes to our energy policy U.S. demand for oil will jump 40 percent over the next twenty years. Over the same period, worldwide demand is expected to jump at least 30 percent, as rapidly developing countries like China and India expand industrial capacity and add 140 million cars to their roads.

Our dependence on oil doesn’t just affect our economy. It undermines our national security. A large portion of the $800 million we spend on foreign oil every day goes to some of the world’s most volatile regimes—Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Venezuela, and, indirectly at least, Iran. It doesn’t matter whether they are despotic regimes with nuclear intentions or havens for madrassas that plant the seeds of terror in young minds—they get our money because we need their oil.

What’s worse, the potential for supply disruption is severe. In the Persian Gulf, Al Qaeda has been attempting attacks on poorly defended oil refineries for years; a successful attack on just one of the Saudis’ major oil complexes could send the U.S. economy into a tailspin. Osama bin Laden himself advises his followers to “focus your operations on [oil], especially in Iraq and the Gulf area, since this will cause them to die off.”

And then there are the environmental consequences of our fossil fuel–based economy. Just about every scientist outside the White House believes climate change is real, is serious, and is accelerated by the continued release of carbon dioxide. If the prospect of melting ice caps, rising sea levels, changing weather patterns, more frequent hurricanes, more violent tornadoes, endless dust storms, decaying forests, dying coral reefs, and increases in respiratory illness and insect-borne diseases—if all that doesn’t constitute a serious threat, I don’t know what does.

So far, the Bush Administration’s energy policy has been focused on subsidies to big oil companies and expanded drilling—coupled with token investments in the development of alternative fuels. This approach might make economic sense if America harbored plentiful and untapped oil supplies that could meet its needs (and if oil companies weren’t experiencing record profits). But such supplies don’t exist. The United States has 3 percent of the world’s oil reserves. We use 25 percent of the world’s oil. We can’t drill our way out of the problem.

What we can do is create renewable, cleaner energy sources for the twenty-first century. Instead of subsidizing the oil industry, we should end every single tax break the industry currently receives and demand that 1 percent of the revenues from oil companies with over $1 billion in quarterly profits go toward financing alternative energy research and the necessary infrastructure. Not only would such a project pay huge economic, foreign policy, and environmental dividends—it could be the vehicle by which we train an entire new generation of American scientists and engineers and a source of new export industries and high-wage jobs.

Countries like Brazil have already done this. Over the last thirty years, Brazil has used a mix of regulation and direct government investment to develop a highly efficient biofuel industry; 70 percent of its new vehicles now run on sugar-based ethanol instead of gasoline. Without the same governmental attention, the U.S. ethanol industry is just now catching up. Free-market proponents argue that the heavy-handed approach of the Brazilian government has no place in the more market-oriented U.S. economy. But regulation, if applied with flexibility and sensitivity to market forces, can actually spur private sector innovation and investment in the energy sector.

Take the issue of fuel-efficiency standards. Had we steadily raised those standards over the past two decades, when gas was cheap, U.S. automakers might have invested in new, fuel-efficient models instead of gas-guzzling SUVs—making them more competitive as gas prices rose. Instead, we’re seeing Japanese competitors run circles around Detroit. Toyota plans to sell one hundred thousand of their popular Priuses in 2006, while GM’s hybrid won’t even hit the market until 2007. And we can expect companies like Toyota to outcompete U.S automakers in the burgeoning Chinese market since China already has higher fuel-efficiency standards than we do.

The bottom line is that fuel-efficient cars and alternative fuels like E85, a fuel formulated with 85 percent ethanol, represent the future of the auto industry. It is a future American car companies can attain if we start making some tough choices now. For years U.S. automakers and the UAW have resisted higher fuel-efficiency standards because retooling costs money, and Detroit is already struggling under huge retiree health-care costs and stiff competition. So during my first year in the Senate I proposed legislation I called “Health Care for Hybrids.” The bill makes a deal with U.S. automakers: In exchange for federal financial assistance in meeting the health-care costs of retired autoworkers, the Big Three would reinvest these savings into developing more fuel-efficient vehicles.

Aggressively investing in alternative fuel sources can also lead to the creation of thousands of new jobs. Ten or twenty years down the road, that old Maytag plant in Galesburg could reopen its doors as a cellulosic ethanol refinery. Down the street, scientists might be busy in a research lab working on a new hydrogen cell. And across the way, a new auto company could be busy churning out hybrid cars. The new jobs created could be filled by American workers trained with new skills and a world-class education, from elementary school to college.

Yes, Mr. Obama surely knows better than any of the captains of the industry how to save the US automakers.

Who can doubt it?

This article was posted by Steve Gilbert on Monday, March 30th, 2009. Comments are currently closed.

10 Responses to “What Obama Wants From Auto Makers”

  1. 64dodger

    Who can doubt it?

    Apparently Wall Street, down 277 points with the announcement of this glorious news.

  2. proreason

    Monday – the financial industry
    Tuesday – the auto industry
    Wednesday – the energy industry
    Thursday – the healthcare industry
    Friday – weather
    Saturday – cigarettes and drugs
    Sunday – trips, brackets and hip-hop

    No wonder the genius makes an occasional teleprompter slip-up.

    Even Zeus couldn’t maintain that schedule.

  3. BannedbytheTaliban

    The more I read of “Barack’s” book, the more it sounds like Buzz Windrip’s “Zero Hour.”

  4. wardmama4

    Someone want to track exactly what makes and models of cars The One ™ has owned throughout his life, most especially since he was discovered as the coming messiah in the mid-nineties?

    Bet ole two-faced, hypocritical ‘Do As I Say, Not As I Do’ BHO wasn’t driving a nice, small, hybrid American sub-compact – EVER.

    His over-reaching into so many different businesses and areas is proof that The One ™ is simply a narcissist with delusions of grandeur.

    • Right of the People

      I know for a fact he had a Chrysler 300 just recently that they were auctioning off just before the coronation. I’m willing to bet Mrs. Biceps had or still has an Audi, BMW, Mercedes, etc., I just can’t see her in a Prius or some other hybrid POS. Typical liberal crap, “Do what I say, not what I do.”

  5. Do we really think he wrote any of this? Yeah he probably wrote the Africa parts, but the rest just seems too … complicated … for someone so dependent upon a teleprompter.

    • proreason

      Steve disagrees, but there is a guy on American Thinker who presents compelling evidence that Bill Ayers wrote a lot of the the first self-indulgent autobiography.

      The second book is completely different. It’s like two different people wrote the 2 books.

      I would be shocked to learn that he wrote either one of them. Here’s why.

      He hasn’t written anything else, other than 2 sophmoric poems and one paper in college.

      The first book is praised to the heavens by loonies like Chris Matthews and numerous serious critics. Allow for a second that Tingly Chris is correct….if he is, you have one of the only cases in human history where an “artist” who has never practiced the craft before, suddenly creates a masterpiece….and then chooses for the rest of his life to create only one other pedestrian and pedantic work (Obamy’s second book).

      It just doesn’t pass proreason’s smell test.

      It’s one of about 100 things in The Moron’s life that doesn’t fit with every real fact we know about him.

      EVERYTHING the Moron has ever done has been done for him. He has created NOTHING. He is a complete and utter tool of people who created him from scratch.

    • proreason, as usually you said it better than me. And that is one of the reasons I had problems with this *candidate* in the first place. The unknowns were just too serious for me to ignore.

      But what the hell do I know? I came down on the losing side of the vote last November …

  6. canary

    Obamba admits middle-east; volatile & plant terror in young minds, using seeds..

    Our dependence on oil doesn’t just affect our economy. It undermines our national security. A large portion of the $800 million we spend on foreign oil every day goes to some of the world’s most volatile regimes—Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Venezuela, and, indirectly at least, Iran. It doesn’t matter whether they are despotic regimes with nuclear intentions or havens for madrassas that plant the seeds of terror in young minds—they get our money because we need their oil.

  7. JohnMG

    …..” Had we steadily raised those standards over the past two decades, when gas was cheap, U.S. automakers might have invested in new, fuel-efficient models instead of gas-guzzling SUVs……”

    And just what does this asshole ride around in??!! I’d love to see him in the presidential Prius, but by the time they up-armored a tin can like that it wouldn’t have the power to pull a sick wh*re off the pot.

    Sometimes I get the feeling nobody’s listening but me. How can the people in this country tolerate such an idiot??


« Front Page | To Top
« | »