Obama also says “The federal government will refrain from exercising its rights as a shareholder in all but the most fundamental corporate decisions.” That’s a tough sell, too. Even before the government owned most of GM and much of Chrysler (the second Big Three automaker Washington recently guided through a special bankruptcy), it was involved in designing cars.
Last month Obama declared that automakers must reach a fleet average 35.5 miles per gallon by 2016. To accomplish that would require a comprehensive makeover of the entire automotive industry -- both domestic and foreign. After all, as USA Today pointed out, only 11 cars manufactured today meet that standard.
But the federal government, as always, has a plan. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson has declared that, “What this country needs is one single national road map that tells automakers ... what kind of car it is they need to be designing and building.”
In days gone by, that “road map” was the free market -- you and me. Automakers built cars they thought people would want to buy. If they were correct, sales were good. If they were incorrect, they had to cancel product lines and return to the drawing board. It’s why Ford has made Mustangs for decades, but mothballed the Edsel after only three years.
Government ownership has never worked overseas, and it won’t work here. Washington should get out of the automotive business as swiftly as possible.
The recent European elections show the rest of the world is edging away from statism. This is no time for America to lurch left so it can keep company with outcasts like Cuba and Venezuela.
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