- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 6, 2010

It’s not enough for the Obama administration to take over America’s largest automaker. The O Force is pushing to redesign every car on the road to reflect the bland, lifeless vision of an activist base committed to undoing the Industrial Revolution. Proposed rules floated Friday by the Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Transportation would raise the existing corporate average fuel economy mandate of 35.5 mpg by 2016 to 60 mpg by 2025.

Even advocates admit the expected change would increase the cost of a new car by at least $2,670 - assuming it’s even possible to meet the new target. Realistic goals, however, have never been the forte of the amateurs drafting the new regulations. The administration’s goal has been to involve as many special interests as possible.

“We will continue to work with automakers, environmentalists and other stakeholders to encourage standards that reduce our addiction to foreign oil, save money for American drivers and clean up the air we breathe,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson in a statement last week. The same press release identified the stakeholders as “nongovernmental organizations, state and local governments, and labor unions” - in other words, everyone but consumers. That’s a recipe for a typically disastrous committee-designed product that nobody wants. Here, the public won’t have any other choice.

The administration’s fact sheet on the scheme refers to engine “downsizing” as one of the goals of the new regulation. So forget about a new Ford Mustang GT or Chevy Tahoe. Mr. Obama wants to cram you and your family into a European-style microcar pulled by a struggling 3-cylinder engine. Realistically, even that would not cut it, and wasteful, heavy, feel-good hybrid systems would need to be bolted into each car. This represents a boon to the rent-seeking “green” companies peddling their subsidized wares, which would fail in an open market.

None of the proposed changes would do anything to make air more breathable. The internal-combustion engine has developed to the point where high performance is no longer accompanied by noxious fumes at the tailpipe. So, to remain relevant, bureaucrats have shifted focus away from actual pollution toward an obsession with eliminating carbon dioxide at the tailpipe. C02, of course, is the same gas you are exhaling as you read this. The utopian crackpots would be amusing if their schemes weren’t backed up with governmental power.

The heart of the matter is that liberals hate motorcars. The automobile gives families the freedom of escaping the centrally planned urban landscape. Instead of depending on the timetables of the local transit authorities, car owners can go wherever they want, whenever they want in comfort and safety. The new Obamacar mandates will make travel by car less pleasant, reducing the allure of a personal sedan.

The free market is more than capable of producing clean, efficient engines that grow more fuel-efficient over time. That’s because consumers consider the total cost of ownership as an important factor in their buying decisions. Shortcutting the market and freezing consumers out of the decision-making process unbalances the equation and eliminates factors such as safety, comfort, utility and fun in favor of gas mileage alone. That’s exactly what the car-hating activists want.