• White House sides with Detroit agains democrats

It’s all about federal Fuel Economy Standards. The Senate and House have both passed an energy bill. But the Senate version includes an enormous and costly increase in the required Corporate Average Fuel Economy standard. The House version includes no increase, though the initial version of the House bill had included a softer increase than adopted in the Senate.
One of the most criticized elements of the Senate bill is that it imposes the same economy standard on trucks as for cars. 
The White House has now announced that, if the bill ultimately adopted by the Congress imposes an identical fuel economy standard for cars and trucks, the President will veto it.

The news must come as music to the ears of a Democrat: John Dingell of Michigan, the chairman of the House Energy Subcommittee.

Dingel was the target of an unprecedented legislative stunt pulled only days ago by House Speaker Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Reid. Though ironing out differences between versions of legislation passed in each house is typically handled by a conference committee of members from both House and Senate, Pelosi and Reid pulled the energy bill from the conference committee and said they would write the “compromise” legislation themselves. The move was clearly designed as an end-run around Dingell, whose position as chair of the energy committee gives him jurisdiction over the subject matter of the legislation in the House and who adamantly opposes the Senate bill. But, both Pelosi and Reid have advocated the Senate bill. Dingell, whose district includes Detroit, has forcefully argues that the Senate version is unfair because it imposes extraordinary environmental costs on auto workers and automakers, while leaving most other industries untouched, all to accomplish almost nothing in the overall environmental picture. 

Automakers, including Toyota, have said that meeting the Senate standards will add a least $5,000 to the cost of a new car and some safety advocates have predicted an increase in the highway death toll from lighter cars required to meet the fuel economy standard.
Tuesday, however, the White House sent a letter to Pelosi and other Congressional leaders outlining the legislation which the President will accept and stating that the president’s advisors would recommend the vetoing of any legislation not within that framework. The administration simultaneously said that meeting the Senate bill’s requirements would cost the automakers more than $85 billion. The Senate bill would raise economy standards for both cars and trucks to 35 mpg by 2020. The House version establishes the 35 mpg standard in 2022 and only for cars, with trucks allowed a lower mileage standard.
The UAW has backed the Senate bill, in the foolish belief that its provisions would keep small car production in the United States. In reality, the substantial costs which the automakers would be incurring to meet the standards virtually guarantee that production of cars and trucks will shift to foreign countries where labor costs are significantly lower. The only way automakers could possibly compete with imported brands, should these standards be adopted, would be to secure similarly lower labor costs by moving production out of the United States.
The White House recently vetoed another bill which would have extended taxpayer paid health insurance coverage to all those under age 28 with family incomes below $80,000. Though the President has vetoed very few bills in his two terms in office, he had a Republican Congress for most of that time, the most recent veto suggests that the President is now more willing to exercise that power to control the actions of a Congress controlled by the Democrats. 
Whether a veto will allow Detroit any real sigh of relief is, however, unclear. Rather than accept a lower standard, Pelosi and Reid could end up setting aside the whole issue in the hope that a Democrat will be elected to the Presidency in the next election. That would leave the automakers in a position where they would find it very hard to make any meaningful long-range product plans. It would also probably encourage the current trend toward shifting investment overseas. The automakers would, for that reason, probably prefer that legislation be passed in this Congress setting a new and higher standard, but one low enough that they can reasonably expect to meet it.

Ralph Kalal
About the author
What do you think?
Show Comments


  (815) posted on 10.11.2010

is he still talking?

  (2) posted on 10.27.2007

Oops! The link is www dot energybill2007 dog org!

  (2) posted on 10.27.2007

Stricter CAFE standards (the Senate’s goal of 35 mpg by 2020) would not entail the negative consequences that many auto manufacturers would have you believe. In fact fuel economy can be raised by simply improving technology in gas-using components such as A/C and heating as well as by using stronger, lighter material (which would not be dangerous). The increase in price would be quickly offset by the amount of money consumers would save on gas due to the better fuel efficiency. It is time to make a real change and our Congress should not allow itself to be bullied about by the auto industry. The coalition I am working with has set up a petition to send to our representatives to ensure that they stand strong in the face of those who would like to delay environmental progress. It is available at: www.energybill2007.org. Please take a moment to check it out. Thanks!

ralph  (1) posted on 10.19.2007

Can’t agree with you about a veto being a "slap in the face of democracy." This isn’t a democracy. It’s a republic. The veto power is conferred on the President in the Constitution. The underlying theory is that it has to get past both houses - senate and house - and the President to become a law. It’s designed to stop hasty and ill-considered legislation, which is exactly what I think the Senate energy bill is.

ralph  (372) posted on 10.17.2007

I have never been a fan of the idea of vetoing. I believe it is a slap in the face of democracy. That said however, I have often come out in strong support of any measure to force car manufacturers to pull up their socks. Tell the truth...manufacturers often bend and twist the figures to put their agenda forward. Volkswagen for example, routinely advertises their power ratings in METRIC hp...that’s PS not BHP. The difference between PS and BHP is about 4hp, give or take. So that 115PS 2.0L in your Golf, actually has closer to 110BHP. But I digress. I believe this adjusted mandate would still force the manufacturers to perform and is workable. As long as the lower economy standard for trucks is above what it is now. That would mean definitely seeing some good diesel trucks on the road (my selfish intentions would be satisfied!).

Car Finder: