The Justice Department Comes After Automakers For The “Crime” Of Not Doing Exactly What Trump Wants

Thing is, seems it’s only Trump who doesn’t want less polluting cars on America’s roads…

Justice says it’s investigating 4 automakers for federal antitrust violations because they made a deal with California to build cleaner cars than the President would require (although not quite as clean as Obama-era regulations would’ve made them). And at least one other automaker has hinted it’d be willing to join too.

Once again let’s ask: if corporations can’t make their own free-market decisions, and instead must adhere to a set of rules dictated by no one but the President, isn’t that Socialism? Or worse? Isn’t that what Conservatives were always so upset about when President Obama put restrictions on emissions from coal burning plants, for instance?

Yes, corporations should not be allowed to collude, but if they are actually coming up with novel solutions to knotty problems, shouldn’t the government intervene to work with them, not against them?

No, says the President, because he wants automakers on board to push ahead with challenging California’s authority to set its own emissions standards, even though the carmakers don’t seem to want to do that. That authority dates back to waivers granted to the California Air Resources Board, which was formed in the late 1960s under then Governor Ronald Reagan. Trump seems pretty dead set now on bringing both that, and the newly conceived anti-trust issue before the Supreme Court, which could very well conclude that since smog is no longer an issue now in California, those waivers are no longer needed. (Just like they ruled key parts of the Voting Rights Act are no longer needed).

Regardless, if nobody but the President wants dirtier cars (or to be accurate no cleaner than they are today), who’s the beneficiary of letting them on the road?

The President says it’s consumers; that’s who he’s doing it for. His sole argument for why his plan is better is it will save consumers $3000 on the purchase of a new car. (And that “savings” number creeps higher the more Trump talks about it, as is his wont. The EPA’s savings estimate is closer to $2000, Trump at times is pegging it at $4000.)

But that’s garbage. Here’s why:

  • A huge chunk of those “savings” is based on an assumption that car insurance rates will come down with less fuel efficient vehicles on the road. The idea behind that is if cars are less fuel efficient, people won’t be able to afford as much gas, so they’ll drive less, so accidents will go down. But do you think if it was made clear to consumers a major reason for the savings the President is talking about is that they probably wouldn’t be able to afford to drive as much, they’d be cheering about that?
  • Trump’s estimates do not include the medical costs that would come along with more air pollution, so might reduce the value of those savings to consumers because they’ll have to spend more on health care. The Trump administration just decided to stop factoring in the hard dollar impact of benefits or harm to health from policy changes of all kinds. (Although the E.P.A. does credit itself with fewer fatalities on the nation’s roads: again because less fuel efficient cards will mean people will drive less.)
  • A big reason automakers have been so willing to compromise with California is they know they will have to invest in building ever more fuel efficient vehicles anyway in order to compete globally. And they’ll have to cover those costs somehow, with at least some being paid by America’s consumers, even if they’re not getting the benefit of that new technology in their own cars.

Not to mention that foreign carmakers will likely be selling the more fuel efficient cars they’re building anyway into the U.S. market, which means the President will likely have to apply tariffs basically forever in order to keep the price of those foreign cars out of reach of most consumers. Automakers can probably count on that out of Trump, but a future free-trader and/or globalist President, be they Democrat or Republican? Also isn’t the government protecting the a deliberately outmoded domestic industry um, SOCIALISM?!

Remember smog?