‘Are they going to take my horsepower down?’

“Obama’s new rules will transform U.S. auto fleet,” read the May 19 headline.

“Some soccer moms will have to give up hulking SUVs,” explained Associated Press auto writer Tom Krisher, fanning himself to keep from flushing with excitement. “Nearly everybody else will drive smaller cars, and more of them will run on electricity. The higher mileage and emissions standards set by the Obama administration on Tuesday, which begin to take effect in 2012 and are to be achieved by 2016, will transform the American car and truck fleet.

“The new rules would bring new cars and trucks sold in the United States to an average of 35.5 miles per gallon, about 10 mpg more than today’s standards,” the AP writer gushed. “Passenger cars will be required to get 39 mpg, light trucks 30 mpg.”

Eric Fedewa, vice president of global powertrain forecasting for an auto consulting firm, told The AP the changes will make pickup trucks so much more expensive that they’ll be used almost exclusively for work.

And — wonders of wonders — auto industry executives say they’re happy to embrace the new standards, since they’ll appreciate having a single goal to shoot for!

Oh, heavens. I’m growing faint. Perhaps I should sit. New Yorkers — convinced that everyone from Anchorage to Ames to Albuquerque should get to their place of work, to the downtown department stores, and to “the theatuh” by riding the subway or hopping a cab, just as they do, rather than racing down darkened highways squashing poor defenseless bunnies — must be positively giddy at the wonderfulness of it all.

Elsewhere, Americans who have read the Constitution, and who think nothing of driving a hundred miles in a weekend to shuttle the kids around one of our sprawling western towns — far beyond the range of any electric car yet manufactured — may react to these grand visions a tad differently.

Back in the 1940s, after all, we were earnestly advised that by this point in history everyone would have a personal atomic jet hover-car to get us in and out of town. How’s that coming along?

Back here in the real world, this all started with Congress making laws that dictated “average fuel efficiency” standards for cars sold in this country. That was supposedly to reduce our dependence on imported fossil fuels.

But the two best way to reduce our dependence on imported fuels are well known: drill for domestic oil everywhere it’s to be found, including the entire continental shelf, and build nuclear power plants — lots of them.

Green extremists have blocked both those options. Nothing else works. Even much ballyhooed ethanol turns out to use more fossil fuel than it saves.

More importantly, where in the Constitution does the Congress find any right to meddle in what American manufacturers manufacture, or what Americans buy from them? Nowhere. No such specific power is delegated.

Yet the assertions above are even more breathtaking than that. Where, above, does it say President Obama is going to present to Congress a BILL, which he would like to see them enact into LAW, which “sets higher mileage and emissions standards”?

Nowhere. The Congress is now bypassed. The wise and powerful wizard Obama, having loaned some of his vastly excessive tax revenues to Detroit to “bail them out” — thus avoiding simple bankruptcy, where the firms might have shed their overly costly union contracts and emerged to renewed profitability — now simply DECREES what kind of cars Detroit will make. He might as well just put Howard Waxman, Charlie Rangel, and Barney Frank in the executive offices at the “Big Three” automakers, in fedoras and double-breasted striped zoot suits like Ayn Rand’s Wesley Mouch, Cuffy Meigs, and Emma Chalmers, and have done with it.

Of COURSE auto executives — rendered insolvent by EXISTING “environmental” and “collective bargaining” federal interventions — “raced to embrace the plan.” When the head of GM recently failed to please Mr. Obama, Mr. Obama fired him. According to New York state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, when Bank of America threatened to back out of the government-engineered Merrill-Lynch takeover last December, then-Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson threatened to fire Bank of America CEO Ken Lewis and his entire board of directors. Yes, comrade Obama, we think your new five-year plan is WONDERFUL! Where do we sign?

Is this the same Barack Obama who said, late last month, with mock humility, “I don’t want to run auto companies. … I don’t know how to create an affordable, well-designed plug-in hybrid”?

The chutzpah here, the arrogance, is astounding. Does this man really believe he has the whole nation hypnotized — that he can say one thing while doing just the opposite? This is like a kidnapper tying down his victim’s hands and feet while saying, “I’m not raping you. Don’t think of it that way. You really want this.”

Not everyone appears ready to gawk in awe as the naked emperor struts around in his new clothes. “Already on Tuesday, some drivers were skeptical,” The AP reported. Dixie Bishop, who runs a plumbing business in San Antonio that uses vans, worried the new requirements will drive up her costs at a time when customers are cutting back on repairs.

“Are they going to take my horsepower down?” she asked. “I have to be able to carry old water heaters and toilets. It’s not beneficial for me to haul one water heater at a time. We need the power to pull these heavy items.”

It’s possible a public dizzied by the pace of all this totalitarian “change” has only begun to respond. In fact, if I were in Las Vegas, where one can bet on such things, I might be willing to wager the average fuel economy of the vehicles on the American road will NOT be 35.5, any time soon.

If I were in Vegas, I might be willing to bet that Americans will start to hold onto their powerful “old” vehicles, spending more to fix them up rather than falling for “tax credit” gimmicks to trade them in for dangerous little golf carts into which Obama and his bi-coastal elite want to see us squeezed.

If I were in Las Vegas … oh, wait.

Obama and his gang will fight any such resistance to their schemes by raising fuel taxes to artificially increase the price of gasoline. If that doesn’t work, they’ll try to outlaw the older, better performing vehicles, outright.

Give it a try, Mr. Obama. Ban the pickup truck — and see who’s sitting in the White House, trying to keep all these new marionette strings from getting tangled, come 2013.

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