Reason Writers Around Town: Shikha Dalmia on Obama's New CAFE Standards for Cars


The Obama administration "saved" the auto industry from natural market forces by giving it close to $100 billion in bailout money, but only so that it could kill it itself. How else to explain the administration's recent proposal to raise CAFE standards on the auto industry to 56 miles per gallon by 2025, something that no car—regular or hybrid—currently comes close to delivering (with the exception of electrics)? "These standards are the regulatory equivalent of a bunker buster that will decimate the industry," notes Reason Foundation Senior Analyst Shikha Dalmia in her latest column at The Daily. They will set the stage for bailouts bigger than anything that we have seen thus far. And, to add insult to injury, Dalmia notes:

The president is trying to impose the new standards through regulatory fiat without Congressional approval. No administration—blue or red—has ever done this before. This is tantamount to declaring war on autos without a formal declaration from Congress.

Read all about it here.


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  1. Oh, please. It’s so simple. Obama can declare that we have workable fusion generators. Then he can declare that only GM can use them. Profit!

    Maybe Nixon was worse. Maybe. I don’t really believe it, though.

    1. Maybe, like healthcare, it’s about access.

      He wants to guarantee Americans’ access to 56mpg cars. But actually providing them will be an entirely different story.

      1. Oh, so it’s an Equal Protection argument?

        1. We’re all electric cars now.

    2. And then he can mandate everyone to buy them.

      1. I guess when the courts say that it is OK for the federales to force us to buy health insurance it is only a matter of time.

    3. Police apprehended the suspect in a SWAT situation five hours after the ordeal began Monday. Robert Terry, 52, was transported to the hospital for a psychiatric evaluation following police intervention.

      Police responded to the 1500 block of South Reisner Street around 6:30 a.m. Monday. Dispatchers were advised that a male suspect with a knife was yelling and screaming.
      According to police, Terry destroyed the windows of three vehicles, stole a tool box from inside one of those vehicles and threw several items out of a window inside the home.

      Nothing else happened.…..0882.story

      1. “Terry’s family has opened an internal investigation into his behavior. Terry has been released from custody and put on paid leave from his job. He will be permitted to retain his knife until the full facts of the incident have been scrutinized.”

      2. “This just in:

        The family of Robert Terry has announced that the results of the Terry family investigation completely exonerate Robert Terry from any alleged wrongdoing.

        Following an intensive period of questioning, the Terry family determined that Robert Terry was simply addressing several potentially dangerous structural deficiencies in the windows of the offending parked vehicles.

        Furthermore, the blatant storage of valuable tools in an unattended vehicle could very well exacerbate the climate of criminal behavior in the community, to which Mr. Terry reasonably responded by judiciously demonstrating the violability of such storage practices by removing the offending tool box.

        In fact, the family spokesperson has chastised the Indianapolis Police for adding to Mr. Terry’s already heightened stress levels, and suggested that an apology is in order.

        Robert Terry will be promoted to the head of the neighborhood watch.”

  2. These people hate cars. Cars give us our freedom. It makes us harder to control. It allows us to live where we want rather than where they tell us to. They allow us to move and go where we like when we like. Cars are the ultimate freedom. And liberals hate them for it.

    1. I’m going to figure out a way to power cars with my moral outrage.

    2. I was just thinking about this during my morning commute. The automobile is a pure symbol of individuality, and must therefore be destroyed to make way for the collectivization of mass transit.

      1. PJ O’Rourke wrote a great piece a few weeks ago making this very point.…..15892.html

        1. That piece is from 2009, fyi.

  3. I truly, honestly cannot believe this sort of thing is happening. This is overflowing into a whole new level, a whole new domain, of tyranny.

  4. The stoopid is STRONG with this one. I own….carry the one…10 vehicles, all told. The highest mileage any of them gets is about 50 mpg (my old Harley Sportster). The worst – my Ford Super Duty pickup (about 8-10mpg when I tow).


    That is all.

    1. But what if they go ahead with the proposal?

      1. The only cars available will be super expensive exotics and moderately expensive eco penality boxes that no one wants. We will turn into Cuba with everyone keeping their old car from the pre communist days going forever.

        1. You’re just coming around to the fact that Cuba is my governance model?

          1. It’s no coincidence that Southern California, home of the nation’s strictest auto emissions standards, also has the highest concentration of smoke-belching ’67 Biscaynes.

            1. SoCal is the Mecca of cardom period. Even despite the heavy boot of government assholes, it is the vibrant center for virtually EVERY car culture in America.

        2. The return of the Flintstone-mobile.

      2. Don’t buy new cars. #WINNING!

  5. It’s not up to enlightened, educated politicians to figure out how this works. It’s up to the greedy auto executives to do so. Because those bastards love money so much, they will figure out a way to do this. Otherwise they won’t make any of their precious profits. See how it works? You can always count on human greed.

    BTW, I am 2/3 through reading Atlas Shrugged for the first time, so this sounds familiar.

    1. ^THIS!^

      If the big 2.5 would simply take a financial hit (since they seem to anyhow!) for a year, the auto unions would do their “dirty work” for them.

      Once the union-fellators in Team Blue see an interruption in their campaign checks, they will never bring up CAFE again.

      1. Just to clarify, GM needs to tell the Feds to get bent, cease all production in the US, and make do with the profits from their PRC operations and sales.

      2. Why would they do that? They can always get free money from the feds next time they lose money.

        1. Sad, but true.

  6. This is troubling; this executive has forgotten his place. It’s the Legislature that gets to rewrite the laws of physics to suit their political whims, not the President…

  7. The article mentions only electrics can meet these fuel mileage numbers. And that’s only because the mileage ratings for electrics are 100% bogus.

  8. This is the statist way of fixing the “problem” of the public not wanting the type of cars that the self appointed elite thinks they should have.

    So if the public won’t buy the “right” kind of cars on their own, then the solution is make sure they aren’t any other types of cars to buy.

  9. When Reason itself fails….


  10. You’d swear that people would have a strong interest in ultra-fuel efficient cars and wouldn’t need the demands of their masters to spur development of such vehicles. Who doesn’t want to spend less on gas?

    You’d think they had other criteria at work: utility, crash-worthiness, cost, passenger comfort, or something. Nutty stuff!

  11. the upshot will be similar to the fiasco created by the light bulb mandate that Congress recently tried unsuccessfully to repeal. The mandate required light bulbs to consume 25-30 percent less energy by 2012. But this effectively outlawed cheap incandescent bulbs while artificially boosting more expensive and annoying fluorescents, triggering a consumer revolt.

    Likewise, the Obama CAFE standards will drive out pickups and other large vehicles, American automakers’ biggest profit makers, and usher in hybrids ? their biggest money losers.

    Isn’t this actually the exact opposite of the light bulb mandate? GE and their ilk promoted the standards, because the more expensive bulbs are actually more profitable for them, unlike the theoretical more expensive cars would be.

    1. Incandescent bulbs and hybrid/electric vehicles both appeal to retards, albeit different strains.

  12. This is making even the UAW nervous, causing it to join ranks with automakers to oppose the standards.

    Now that’s just insane. Of course, it’s not like Union workers are really leftists. Or perhaps they’re just an entirely different flavor of leftist from environmentalists.

  13. [T]he administration’s recent proposal to raise CAFE standards on the auto industry to 56 miles per gallon by 2025, something that no car ? regular or hybrid ? currently comes close to delivering (with the exception of electrics)[…]

    The expectation from bureaucrats and not a few of the economics illiterate and intellectually limited (or “leftist boobs,” to put it more succinctly) is that industry will come up with new technologies that will achieve this magical performance number.

    They are also expecting the industry to build vehicles that can run on miraculous unicorn piss, which stores 100 times more energy than unobtainium.

    1. What’s great is that we’ll likely achieve something along those lines (possibly by replacing gas altogether), but it’ll be the market that does it, despite government action, not because of it. And, of course, the usual suspects in and supporting government will claim full credit for it.

    2. Straight out of Atlas Shrugged. The industrialists always think of something to save the day.

  14. Oh, and environmental groups think that 56 mpg is too low. They’re agitating for higher.

    1. Great, now I can hear arguments like the incandescent one about how 1000mpg car “efficiency mandates” aren’t really bans.

    2. I’m starting my moped gang right now!

  15. So, Obama starts a war without congressional approval? This is new, HOW?

  16. [T]he era of improving fuel economy by slashing vehicle weight is drawing to a close. Indeed, Sean McAlinden, chief economist at the Center for Automotive Research, notes that it is technologically impossible to squeeze anything beyond 45 mpg in fuel economy from current vehicles. That’s why Europes fuel economy has plateaued at that level, despite $8 per gallon gas.

    But once we develop vehicles that can run on unicorn piss (with 100 times the stored energy of unobtainium), then we will be able to reach those standards.

    That is how we will wean ourselves from fossil fuels: By imagining we can bend the laws of physics. Or at least, the bureaucrats at DC and their cadre of admiring leftist boobs fancy this.

  17. If the automakers would just stop suppressing that carburetor technology that gets over 100 MPG, we wouldn’t have this problem. They’ve been doing it for decades.

    1. I remember when I was in junior high, I had a friend whose dad believed all that crap. So I not knowing any better thought it might be true. My dad made the best point ever in response. That is, if this technology exists, why haven’t the Soviets, who could put it to great military use, stolen it like they have every other technology including the atomic bomb?

      1. It’s not crap. My grandfather was a Mason, and he never bought a pint of gas. He just filled up his car with water.

  18. No administration?blue or red?has ever done this before.

    Well, you guys never had a dictator before…

    There’s a first time for everything.

  19. Is this a case of fuel efficiency, safety, price, pick two?

  20. The President needs to have a black Fiat 500 Presidential Limo.

    Lead by example, dickbreath.

    1. A golf cart. An electric golf cart. With black SS golf carts in the motorcade.

      1. Don’t give them any ideas. That twit Carter WALKED to his inauguration.

  21. And- speaking of leading by example, take the keys to Air Force One away from your wife; there is no frequent flier plan for that airline.

  22. I think the SS detail should have pedal cars.

    And fezzes.

    1. Definitely fezzes. I was wavering about the Secret Service golf carts, thinking they should just run alongside the president, but maybe pedal cars are a good compromise. Isn’t compromise like that what they all talk about all the time?

      No planes. Period. In fact, in order to save money and save Gaea, I say no leaving DC for any reason. What need does the president have to leave the Mall?

      1. Upscaled tricycles would be a good fit. The actual politicians can even stand on the back the tricycle and schmooze from it as they get peddled around.

  23. Crash + Emissions + Fuel Efficiency standards = POS vehicles.

    It’s that simple. Being a car enthusiast is what makes me libertarian more than anything else. I think a lot of car/motorcycle guys are the same, which translates to low political involvement and lobbying power. Even though there are far more of us than other special interests that get to set the national agenda, directly fucking us over. I’m looking at you, envirodipshits and bicyclists.

  24. What need does the president have to leave the Mall?

    None. Any messages he has for the Capitol should be hand-delivered; in person.

  25. The California emissions mandate that, had it been continued and enforced, would have required a good fraction of cars sold in California to be electric, failed dismally. Once it was history, GM and others that had dabbled in EVs for California’s sake rounded up their EVs and crushed them or sent them to museums (as was documented in “Who Killed the Electric Car”). The federal CAFE initiative will fare no better. More worrisome is the executive power grab this move entails.

  26. Looks pretty good to me dude. Wow.

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