The Rubber Stamp

In the June 23-24 Wall Street Journal, John Fialka and Greg Hitt (“Fights Loom on Energy Bill, Making Passage Uncertain,” subscription required) mention that,

[S]peaking at a news conference Friday, Sen. Harry Reid (D., Nev) the Senate Majority Leader, compared the White House veto threats to bureaucrats waving a rubber stamp that says “veto.” “They can take their rubber stamp, and you know what they can do with it,” he told reporters, calling the bill “a major victory for the American people.”

A major defeat is more like it. Only the perfect storm could have produced such lunacy as this bill—September 11, the War on Terror, and the resulting desire for energy independence; voters’ disgust over Iraq, which brought the “Environmental” party to power; and the corn states’ importance to the 2008 election—these all contributed to allow a reckless bill of huge proportions.

The supporters of the bill’s CAFE provisions say that “the legislation will save consumers $13 each time they buy a tank of gasoline and allow their vehicles to go 100-150 miles farther on a tank,” according to Fialka and Hitt. Unfortunately at a savings of only $13 per tank, it would take consumers between 10 to 20 years to make up the additional cost of what a 40% increase in mpg will add to the sticker price of a new car, as anyone who has ever shopped for a hybrid can attest to. (The bill raises the currently mandated 25mpg fuel-efficiency standards for the nation’s auto and light truck fleet to 35 mpg.)

And if consumers are upset about gas prices now, just wait until a seven-fold mandated increase in the amount of ethanol takes effect. Then you’ll hear them bewail not only gas prices, but food prices, too, which will skyrocket not only because of the price of corn and the many foods affected, but also because of the increased cost to bring those foods to market.

The sons of Tax and Spenders, the Tax, Spend, and Regulators have found a mischievous vehicle in energy efficiency standards. Cutting the amount of water and energy to appliances such as dishwashers, washers, and refrigerators, they seem to be posing the question, “How inefficient can we make these machines?”

The good news is that a national Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) for electricity generation has so far not been included in this bill. The RPS would have looked like out-sourcing on steroids, driving whole manufacturing companies that currently rely on the cheaper power of the industrial heartland to find lower electricity prices overseas.

Crowning their irresponsibility to the consumers, senators rushed pell-mell to get this enormous bill and its many amendments through before Americans realize what this could do to their checkbooks.

If it gets through the House to him, let’s hope President Bush does know what to do with that rubber stamp.