Debra J. Saunders

American voters want -- and President Obama campaigned on a platform of -- European-style government at American tax rates.

Consider the Obama take on GM's and Chrysler's extended hand for another Washington bailout. Obama recognizes that the Detroit automakers are in trouble because of pension and retiree health care costs and quality issues, but his focus Monday was on the failure of GM and Chrysler to manufacture the "fuel-efficient cars and trucks that will carry us toward an energy-independent future." That's the happy conceit of Democrats who -- their own personal driving habits and what you see on the nation's highways every day notwithstanding -- have determined that Americans really prefer driving small, fuel-efficient cars in the style of Our Betters in Europe.

Now, with gasoline in the $2 per gallon range, Obama's brainstorm for a successful business model is to create "the next generation of clean cars." Get it: GM and Chrysler are in trouble because their cars weren't liberal enough.

It helps if you forget that the Big Three cranked out big cars for years because Americans bought them in the days before gasoline hit $4 per gallon.

Here's the European-government-with-American-taxes angle: If Obamaland believes it is in the interest of America's national security to drive fuel-efficient cars, the only sure route there is to levy higher gasoline taxes -- as they do in Europe.

Look at France, where taxes account for about 70 percent of the price of gasoline, compared to less than 17 percent in the United States. Our Betters in Europe pay some $5 to $6.50 per gallon of gas -- or 2.5 to three times more than Americans pay. That's why Europeans drive smaller cars. And that's why European carmakers design smaller cars.

Instead, Obama plans to push Americans into buying his promised "new generation of clean cars" with -- you guessed it -- lower taxes. This week, he supported "a generous credit to consumers who turn in old, less fuel-efficient cars and purchase cleaner cars." That's on top of an Obama stimulus provision that allows consumers to deduct sales and excise taxes for cars bought between Feb. 16 and the end of the year.

There's a logic deficit to the whole approach.


Debra J. Saunders


 
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