“The Campaign,” an attack on the Citizens United Supreme Court ruling overturning restrictions on free speech, masquerades as a summer comedy starring Will Farrell. The film furthers the simplistic media-Hollywood Left stereotype that corporations buy politicians.
For a dose of reality, a new House Oversight Committee report on the Obama Administration’s 54.5 MPG-by-2025 average vehicle fuel economy mandate reveals that the real power lies with federal bureaucrats and their Green allies. Together they have forced unreasonable environmental standards down corporate throats — after which corporations must spend millions in lobbying to try and contain their indigestion.
So-called Corporate Average Fuel Economy Standards (CAFE) have always been opaque and ripe for abuse. But standards that were once set by the Department of Transportation — which at least has a passing familiarity with autos — have now been hijacked by the Green Church (that is, the EPA).
The result, reports the Oversight Committee is that the “the Administration dictated politically motivated standards to a captive automobile industry” in a “raw political process designed to appease environmental extremists. These special interest groups were given unprecedented and powerful seats at the table.”
Thus, the quixotic 54.5 MPG standard was picked out of thin air. This absurd number (designed by Green extremists to eliminate the internal combustion engine which drives 97 percent of new cars today) was met with shock from automakers as “representatives from GM explained to Administration officials how their proposal was ‘overly aggressive’ and commercially unworkable.”
Commercially unworkable? Details, details.
Obama Auto Czar Ron Bloom arrogantly asserted the automakers didn’t know their own business. “Our technical folks think you can get there,” he bullied in an email to one executive.
But GM — and its Detroit neighbor, Chrysler — had an ace in the hole: They are partially-owned by the same federal government making the regulations. Soon Obama — and his DC brethren — were reaping the rewards of their new regulatory power by sitting at the receiving end of millions in lobbying from the Detroit Three to tilt the playing field.
“Both Chrysler and General Motors (in 2011) posted their biggest annual lobbying tallies since the government bailouts,” reports the Center for Responsive Politics. “General Motors led the charge in 2011, pouring $10.8 million into its federal lobbying budget. (Chrysler) spent $4.3 million on federal lobbying . . . (and ) Ford spent about $6.7 million.”
As a result, the Obama Administration let slide rules that both cars and trucks had to increase fuel efficiency by 5 percent a year. Instead, trucks only had to make 3.5 percent increases (a still absurd standard). Why? Because the Big Three are more dependent on sales of light trucks than their Japanese competitors.
“Although this new incentive helped the Administration secure the critical support of the three domestic automakers,” says the Oversight Committee, “the foreign manufacturers immediately noticed the inherent unfairness. . . . One executive even described the light-truck carve-out as a ‘second auto bailout.’”
Said one Toyota exec: The deal was an “old Detroit tactic. It may hurt me, but it hurts my competitors more.”
And so it goes, with auto manufacturers of all nationalities pouring more money into Washington to influence the real power in America: Obama’s regulatory Leviathan. “The Administration included ‘bonus credits’ for certain technologies,” continues the report, “such as electric vehicles, flexible-fuel vehicles, and clean natural gas vehicles” in order to game the numbers.
How much must they be gamed? Truecar.com, a leading industry analyst, reports that the current average fuel economy of all cars sold is only 23.1 mpg — nowhere close to the 35.5-by-2015, much less the 54.5-by-2025.
Get ready for many millions more diverted to Washington lobbying.