I For One Welcome Our New Mustachioed Overlords

The environmental movement has claimed a big, 82-year old scalp: Michigan Rep. John Dingell, who's been in Congress since Eisenhower's first term, has lost the chairmanship of the House Energy and Commerce Committee to California Rep. Henry Waxman.

Waxman’s takeover of the Energy and Commerce caps a quarter-century rivalry between him and Dingell. While they agree on many issues — most notably health care — the two men have clashed since the 1980s over environmental regulations. Waxman, who leans to the left of his party, is an advocate of strong clean air protections and stringent fuel-efficiency and energy conservation measures.

Dingell has been a fierce protector of the auto industry, which is crucial to the economy of his home state of Michigan.

Waxman’s victory gives him control of one of the most powerful committees in Congress, with jurisdiction that touches almost every corner of domestic policy, from energy to health care to telecommunications.

You can't overstate how much liberals had come to resent Dingell. Glenn Hurowitz's 2007 rundown of the saga is a good place to start.

In a nod to Dingell, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi excluded an increase in vehicle fuel efficiency -- despite the fact that the Senate included such an increase in its energy bill and more than 200 House co-sponsors have publicly backed the measure. It was a notable gap in a bill that otherwise included aggressive measures to tackle the climate crisis and secure energy independence, like diverting $16 billion in subsidies from oil and gas companies towards clean energy...

Earlier this summer, Dingell floated an energy proposal that could almost have come out of Dick Cheney's energy task force. Not only did it propose massive subsidies for dirt fossil fuels like coal and prohibit increases in automobile fuel efficiency, it took a somewhat gratuitous swipe at Pelosi's home state by revoking California's more than 30-year-old authority to set its own cleaner air standards.

Reason contributing editor Julian Sanchez has more on Waxman's views of intellectual property, part of his new fiefdom.

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  • Chairman Pigface||

    Oink oink!

  • ||

    This is an odd way to phrase this:

    Waxman, who leans to the left of his party, is an advocate of strong clean air protections and stringent fuel-efficiency and energy conservation measures.

    Dingell has been a fierce protector of the auto industry, which is crucial to the economy of his home state of Michigan.


    Henry Waxman supported policies that would have spurred Detroit to put more of its R&D and design efforts into higher technology, lower-emissions, higher-mileage vehicles over the past 20 years rather than larger and cushier SUVs, while Dingle was a fierce protector of the auto industry.

  • sage||

    So they've replaced a protectionist with a regulationist.

    I note, joe, that you did not rephrase that second statement. Did it fit your worldview OK such that it did not need editing like the first sentence?

  • ||

    Henry Waxman supported policies that would have spurred Detroit to put more of its R&D and design efforts into higher technology, lower-emissions, higher-mileage vehicles over the past 20 years rather than larger and cushier SUVs,

    If Waxman had had his way, none of that would have made any difference to the current plight of the auto industry.

    They are going under for the third time because they have way too much manufacturing capacity, are buried under work rules and financial obligations built up over years of union contracting, and have the layers and layers of sclerotic bureaucracy typical of any very large organization that has been around for generations.

    I don't see any way that jacked-up CAFE standards (part of the problem, IMO) would have helped, rather than hurt, the US auto industry. It would be like telling someone with a puncture wound to the gut that they need to floss their teeth.

  • ||

    The idiotic CAFE standards are one of the reasons why Detroit can't make a profit. If they could just sell the vehicles that make them money without worrying about selling small cars, they would be in a lot better shape. Someone on another thread mentioned the Harley Davidson example. Harley Davidson was able to come back from the dead by producing a niche product that people wanted. Had it been subject to rules as stupid as the CAFE standards, it would have had to produce a 650 sport bike for every big cruiser it sold and never would have made it.

  • ||

    prohibit increases in automobile fuel efficiency



    Clumsily worded sentences are one thing, but WTF?

  • ||

    Doesn't Holder have a stache to? Does this mean the stache is coming back? Will everyone look like the cast from Gettysburg in a few years?

  • ||

    Cool. Will they wear long coats, too? Gosh, maybe I could dig a more oppressive interventionist state after all.

    I'm call the Sam Elliott look from Tombstone!

  • ||

    The idiotic CAFE standards are one of the reasons why Detroit can't make a profit. If they could just sell the vehicles that make them money without worrying about selling small cars, they would be in a lot better shape.

    You know, like Honda and Toyota. What?

    sage,

    I don't think my comment was that difficult, and doesn't really require a big sidetable to understand.

    RC,

    They're manufacturing capacity is only "too much" because of their lost market share.

  • Citizen Nothing||

    Pro Lib, I dig your style too, man.

    Oh wait. Wrong Sam Elliott movie.

  • DADIODADDY||

    So what you're saying is that they waxed their dingle...8 year olds around the world commence giggling

  • ||

    Which Sam Elliot look should I have opted for? I like the whole long coat thing, with distressingly large mustache.

  • ||

    Oh wait. Wrong Sam Elliott movie.

    You're thinking Road House, aren't you.

    "Well, that's the exact type of atmosphere I've been trying to cultivate. But, while danger may linger, I'm the levelheaded bouncer that keeps violence in check, like Swayze in Road House. I'm the cooler."

  • ||

    John
    Don't forget the added protection given HD by the Reagan admin. when tariffs were placed on imports 1000ccs and up. It makes you wonder how well the much celebrated employee takeover would have worked out w/o it.

  • ||

    Road House? No.

  • ||

    Just admit it, ProL.

  • ||

    I believe I clearly said Tombstone.

    So, Citizen Nothing, which movie were you thinking of?

  • ||

    Maybe he was referring to Frogs?

  • ||

    There is nothing to be ashamed of in Roadhouse. Nothing!

  • Boston||

    Big Lebowski

  • sage||

    I don't think my comment was that difficult, and doesn't really require a big sidetable to understand.

    Oh no, I understood exactly what you did there. I think everyone did. But thanks for not answering my question.

  • ||

    There is nothing to be ashamed of in Roadhouse. Nothing!

    "Take the biggest guy in the world, shatter his knee and he'll drop like a stone."

  • ||

    Boston,

    Not Big Lebowski. He's too country looking there. I prefer a more Clint Eastwood/Lee Van Cleef look. With more laundering, though.

    Which is worse--Road House or Point Break?

  • Citizen Nothing||

    "Frogs"
    Wow. I believe that was the first movie I ever saw at the cinema without an adult in tow.
    I haven't thought about that movie in, well, 36 years.

  • ||

    Just be careful your long coat doesn't get tangled up in the drive belt of your Harley, or you'll be singing that tune in a much higher key.

  • .||

    Is it true that GM's long-term health and retirement obligations are larger than Germany's?

  • Boston||

    Oh i understand where you were going, just thats the line CN mentioned. Pro Liberate, what's that, some sort of eastern thing?

  • ||

    Oh! I see. My mistake. Look we're agreed upon, line came from a different movie. Should've caught that myself.

  • Citizen Nothing||

    Sometimes you eat the bar, Boston, and sometimes, why, he eats you.

  • ||

    Is it true that GM's long-term health and retirement obligations are larger than Germany's?

    I'm not sure about that, but you'd have to get elected to the United States Senate to get significantly better coverage and benefits.

  • ||

    "You know, like Honda and Toyota. What?"

    Those companies make a lot of money selling small cars because they have low overhead and can afford to have small profit margins on each vehicle. The Big 3 don't have low overhead. They need to sell big margin vehicles if they want to make money. The Big 3 have made a fortune selling SUVs and trucks only to then lose it paying out retirement benefits and making small cars they have to sell for a loss. If the big 3 had been allowed to get out of the small car business and just sell the cars that made money, they wouldn't be in as big of a mess. But thanks to CAFE standards, they can't become Niche producers.

  • ||

    P Brooks,

    If the bailout goes through the Big 3 will just be benefit distribution mechanisms that happen to make cars.

  • BDB||

    Mercedes and BMW don't give their employees health coverage, because the German govt already does.

  • ||

    I used to F*** guys like you in prison

  • ||

    Those companies make a lot of money selling small cars because they have low overhead and can afford to have small profit margins on each vehicle. Universal health care will do that.

    The Big 3 don't have low overhead. They need to sell big margin vehicles if they want to make money. Especially given how few of things they actually sell.

    So, how are those Expeditions and Hummers moving these days, anyway?

    Good thing they didn't put the effort into making those smaller cars better, so they could move them as a higher volume and higher margin per unit. Good job protecting Detroit, Dingle. They might have been in a bad spot without you.

  • BDB||

    Of course, that means that BMW isn't going bankrupt, but the German govt will instead.

  • ||

    Would you like that shit sandwich on wheat or rye?

  • ||

    I've had my pornstache since high school, which signifies a big, swinging, uh ...keychain. Moving on, Wasman's stache is an affront, an AFFRONT, I tells ya, to the mustachioed everywhere. And I certainly hope that being mustachioed is not like being mustachiholed, which...well, I'll stop now.

  • Danny||

    I thought libertarians would cheer every time a totally captured senator or congressman loses his post -- I'd argue that the auto market will be freer with Waxman than Dingell, just because Waxman has priorities other than slavishly following the dictates of the Detroit auto industry.

  • ||

    joe and John,

    You could add together what you both know about the domestic automotive industry's trouble, put it in a thimble, and still have room for a finger.
    [/scold]

    For self preservation reasons I don't say this in bars around here, but I hope GM declares chapter 11 before Xmas.

    It probably won't happen, but the spectacle would be fascinating to observe up close.

  • ||

    "Universal health care will do that."

    So the entire country can go bankrupt not just GM and we can all get equally shitty healthcare and die on waiting lists for minor surgeries.

    "So, how are those Expeditions and Hummers moving these days, anyway?"


    Since oil is back down on $40 a barrell, really well. How are is the market for small cars now? Just because demand for a product is cyclical, doesn't mean it is not profitable. Toyota makes full sized trucks. Why are they right to do so but GM and Ford wrong? Hummer? Have you ever been in a Toyota Landcruiser?

    What is up with this weirdo hatred of big cars liberals have? What the hell do you care what cars GM makes or people buy? I will say this in defense of the American Automakers, everyone hates them. The right hates them for their union contracts. The left for some bizare reason seems to hate them because they don't exclusively make eco penalty boxes for cars. Why they dont' hate foreign car makers for the same reason I can't quite figure out.

  • cunnivore||

    So, how are those Expeditions and Hummers moving these days, anyway?

    That's due to high gas prices, joe. They made money hand over fist on those things as recently as a few years ago. And gas prices are dropping again, so we may be headed back to the days of ubiquitous SUVs once again.

  • ||

    J sub D,

    Why would it be a bad idea for GM to break up, go into Chapter 11, cram down its union obligations, and just concentrait on those brands that make money, which last I looked was trucks SUVs and the odd sportscar? Is there a better way forward? Seriously.

  • ||

    Actually, John raises a point that I mentioned to my wife recently. With gas plummeting, even with the recession on, the big "cars" may come back a bit. Except that Congress may attempt to ban them in the green front of the War on the Economy.

  • ||

    Pro,

    Right now is a golden age for muscle cars. There are so many incredible high horsepower cars out there. Even my four door V6 has more power than many "sports cars" did 20 years ago. Perhaps I am too optimistic about the state of America, but I would like to think that the people would revolt and kill the careers of every politician responsible if they ever banned big horsepower cars.

  • ||

    I hope GM declares chapter 11 before Xmas.

    Let me guess- if that happens, the universe will implode, and you'll save a ton of money on Xmas presents.

  • BDB||

    Gas prices may be down but people are still wary of buying big cars, because $4 gas scared the shit out of them and they figure it will happen in the future. You will need like 5 or so years of $2/gallon gas or less before people go back to big cars.

  • DADIODADDY||

    ...HAHAHAHA... WAXED THEIR DINGLE...HAHAHAHAHA
    does'nt anyone get this?

  • ||

    "Gas prices may be down but people are still wary of buying big cars, because $4 gas scared the shit out of them and they figure it will happen in the future. You will need like 5 or so years of $2/gallon gas or less before people go back to big cars."

    I don't know. A small car only pays if you drive a lot. If you don't drive much, the convience and space of a big car or an SUV is really nice and the bite from gas isn't that much. Further, you can get an SUV really cheap right now.

  • ||

    Also BDB,

    There are entire swaths of the country who love their pickups and won't give them up $4 gas or not. Also there are a lot of people who for work reasons or because they live in the country on bad roads, have to have a pickup or an SUV.

  • BDB||

    Yes but if you don't have to drive much, chances are you live in the city. Which means yeah, you wouldn't spend much on gas, but an SUV is a pain in the ass to park in small areas.

    I guess if you're a retired suburbanite an SUV would be a good deal.

  • BDB||

    I also hate the idea that somehow big cars will never be fuel efficent. Who knows what future technology will bring? There could be a 40 mpg plug-in hybrid Hummer someday.

  • cunnivore||

    They'll never be fuel efficient compared to (contemporary) small cars. That's just Newton's 2nd Law, which isn't likely to change.

    But yes, Hummers are significantly more efficient than the Model T, for instance.

  • ||

    Cunnivore,

    But if battery technology gets better, couldn't they be electric? Also, I think Diesel holds pretty good promise to make big cars more efficient.

  • ||

    DADIODADDY-

    When the peasants revolt, and lynch him, we can say, "They dangled their Dingle."

  • BDB||

    Yeah, I meant compared to cars in the past.

  • BDB||

    I do understand we're not getting rid of big cars. Which is not what I want. It'd just be a good goal to get big cars to consume less gas.

  • ||

    Actually you have who bunch of problems here. First, the union costs are just too high those have to be re-negotiated. Second, you have a corporate structure that is practically pre-historic and that needs to go as well. Over-regulation is another major issue as well.

    The over-regulation problems is the reason why cars keep getting more and more expensive and the companies have to keep investing more money into research every year despite the fact that the basic design of an automobile was set in the 1940's.

    A big part of this is ever tightening emissions rules. OBD I established in the mid-80's solved 90% of all emissions problems. We should have stopped there, but the requirements of OBD II and now OBD III have made R&D costs go crazy. The same can be said of the ever tightening crash safety requirements. Relaxing these rules, or simply saying what we have is enough and ending the creation of newer even tighter rules, would go a long way over time towards lowering both the business costs and purchase prices of automobiles.

  • ||

    If you think aluminum cars are expensive, wait 'til you see the sticker price on a carbon fiber Ford LTD.

  • ||

    $2 gas didn't help push the big burst of SUVs, $1 gas did. Not to mention an expanding economy, rapidly rising home prices and cheap, easy credit. It was basically a perfect storm for auto manufacturers to make money hand over fist. The problem is, the kind of market convergences that lead to that only come every few decades because some of those things tend to move in opposite directions*. GM relying on a market like they had a few years ago for their survival is as well thought out as me relying on PowerBall to fund my retirement.

    * A rapidly growing economy often is marked by rising interest rates and increasing oil price.

  • Tacos mmm...||

    So the entire country can go bankrupt not just GM and we can all get equally shitty healthcare and die on waiting lists for minor surgeries.


    For christ's sake, Britain's NHS is not the beginning and end of universal healthcare. Countries like France and Switzerland do just fine with their systems. Everytime someone brings up universal healthcare, it's all "NHS NHS NHS" as if only English-speaking countries had doctors.

  • ||

    First, the union costs are just too high those have to be re-negotiated. Second, you have a corporate structure that is practically pre-historic and that needs to go as well. Over-regulation is another major issue as well.

    Uh, they have. The problem isn't what they're paying for new people, the problem is their legacy costs.

  • ||

    BDB,

    I think there's some truth to the idea that people may be wary of gas prices shooting up again, but we usually have short memories.

  • ||

    "For christ's sake, Britain's NHS is not the beginning and end of universal healthcare. Countries like France and Switzerland do just fine with their systems. Everytime someone brings up universal healthcare, it's all "NHS NHS NHS" as if only English-speaking countries had doctors."

    Not all countries are as bloodly awful as NHS true. But, it is safe to always assume the worst from government and the countries that do do better still don't do as well as the US does in many areas and also are not as totalitarian as NHS. If the socializers were willing to admit up front that NHS is a travesty and crime committed on the British people and then start the debate from there, it would help.

  • ||

    Tom,

    Those are all excellent points. But to do what you suggest, the public would have to admit that thre is not a perfect sollution to everything and that some risks are not worth the cost of preventing. Good luck with that one.

  • ||

    They're manufacturing capacity is only "too much" because of their lost market share.

    That's the first half of the story, and merely raises the question of why they haven't closed their surplus plants. The answer is a combination of:

    (1) Government mandates (plant closing laws).
    (1a) Government mandates (CAFE standards, requiring the Big 3 to keep producing cars that they can't make money on, which in turn means that they can't close the plants that make those cars).
    (2) Union contracts (that don't allow much cost savings when plants are closed).
    (3) Bad management (not willing to close plants).

  • Tacos mmm...||

    Not all countries are as bloodly awful as NHS true. But, it is safe to always assume the worst from government and the countries that do do better still don't do as well as the US does in many areas and also are not as totalitarian as NHS.


    It's true that some universal coverage systems don't work as well as the US system, but some also work better, and for a substantially smaller fraction of the GDP. I would just like to see a discussion that goes beyond "NHS is bad, therefore universal healthcare is bad."

  • ||

    tom, you are correct
    [you apparently agree with me, anyway- same thing.]

    I have been sitting here for much, much longer than I ought, waiting for somebody/anybody (I'm looking at you, Mister Industry Analyst!) to point out that a major part of what we are seeing here is the cumulative effect of forty years' worth of unintended consequences directly resulting from government policy and legislation.

    Thus far, no luck.



    -me, yesterday, watching the Red Queen's inquisition

  • ellipsis||

    Nice! And so the divisiveness has already begun.

    This should be a fun fight to watch.

  • ||

    Rationed healthcare has arrived just in time to knock off enough baby boomers to save social security.

    Too bad America isn't forced to watch their elected officials at work. Two years of Waxman and Frank would be just about all America could take.

  • ||

    Pro Lib wrote: "I think there's some truth to the idea that people may be wary of gas prices shooting up again, but we usually have short memories."

    Gas is down because of the recession. But people aren't feeling as flush with cash, either, because their stocks and houses have dropped in value. And cheap easy credit isn't quite as available. And the employment situation is awful.

    I'm guessing people aren't crazy about the idea of wasting more money on gas than they really need to, even if it is only $2/gallon. They might need that money for food. Why buy more car than they really need?

    Cargo capacity that is rarely used, excess horsepower they don't need, and off-road capability that is a bigger part of their fantasy self image than their actual lifestyle are not big selling points in an economy that is reminding people of what's really important and what's self-pampering fluff.

  • ||

    Gas is down in anticipation of the recession. It's too early for the recession itself to do much. Also, that begs the question of why gas went up so much? I still maintain that it was just another bubble, and that claims of peak oil and other it's forever! remarks weren't worth much more than DOW 30,000.

    Incidentally, if you have a large family, an SUV or minivan is a necessity, and that accounts for a good number of the vehicles on the road. And trucks serve a purpose as well, beyond any image concerns.

  • ||

    Good Gawd, Waxman is such a tool. I remember reading an article in a business magazine a few years ago about how to conduct yourself before congressional committees. Per Waxman, the advice was: "Never question the premise of the hearing"...

    Unfortunately, with Waxman, the premise generally boils down to: I'm Henry Waxman, and I can do whatever the fuck I want...

  • Russ 2000||

    We'll eventually have CO2 standards for talking. Then we'll have finally accomplished Nixon's dream of repealing the bill of rights.

    And if I exercise the right to remain silent, shouldn't I be getting some sort of tax rebate?

  • ||

    Pro Lib writes: "Incidentally, if you have a large family, an SUV or minivan is a necessity, and that accounts for a good number of the vehicles on the road. And trucks serve a purpose as well, beyond any image concerns."

    The 'necessity sales' level should remain fairly constant, no?

    The people who have switched to small cars, or stopped driving their truck and can't sell it, have discovered that it wasn't all that necessary.

  • DADIODADDY||

    haahahahahahahah...dangle their Dingle....hahahahahah

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