Blame the USA's Energy Disaster, Including the Collapsing US Auto Industry, on Congress

07/24/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

The USA is in danger because of cowardly, horrendously bad judgment that decades of congressional legislators have engaged in. Their failure has led to an out of control national debt, skyrocketing gasoline prices and the collapsing of the US Automobile industry.

I'm not talking about just this 110th Dem. Congress. I'm talking about decades of congresses that have all failed to do their jobs protecting America. Yes. When it comes to energy use, we're talking about protecting America.

And I call what we are going through now a disaster.

First, we are facing a situation where one of our few remaining massive industries -- automobile manufacturing -- is in dire danger. This danger is partly their fault but also, substantially the fault of legislators.

Of course, lobbyists for the automobile companies went to legislators and pushed for them to relent on requirements for more fuel-efficient cars. And of course, the legislators gave them what they wanted. The current congress recently raised the cafe standards to what amounts to a joke, it's so insignificant, with such abysmally low long-term goals.

The problem was, our weak, spineless legislators, (for god's sake, spineless-legislators is almost becoming the hyphenated, complete form of the word describing elected representatives to congress) for the past several decades, didn't see the failure to raise mileage capabilities of automobiles as a way to cut our need for oil imports, to cut our production of pollutants, to cut our leakage of dollars and to reduce the worsening of our balance of trade.

The legislators cut the automobile manufacturers some slack. Bush made it even worse, encouraging building of bigger, more gas-guzzling vehicles with tax breaks for them. Talk about insanity!

But that slack was no favor to these auto-makers. If the legislators had been tough on GM, Ford, Chrysler, etc., if they'd demanded that they make better cars and trucks -- vehicles that burned a lot less gas, or none at all, if they'd rewarded energy innovation, even offered tax breaks to buyers who bought new, more energy efficient technologies, then we might not be in as bad a situation as we are in now.

If the legislators had stood up to lobbyists and told them that the lobbyists requests were endangering the US by weakening us through increased dependency upon foreign oil, we wouldn't be in nearly as bad a situation as we are now.

If the legislators had stood up to the lobbyists and told them that their requests were going to bode ill for the auto companies, because they would become less competitive than foreign companies that were shooting for better performance, we'd all be better off now.

But the legislators didn't do the right thing, didn't stand tough. They did their predictable, spineless performance that has earned congress single digit ratings.

Now, the Republicans and the most sellout, cowardly Democrats are calling for drilling in offshore waters -- a transparent, dishonest solution that will not bear results for years. It is highly likely that the current crop of democrats will, fearing criticism by the Republicans, fail to block these bad ideas.

It's time for legislators to get tough on Auto Manufacturers. They MUST raise their targets dramatically, not so they'll be able to sell more cars, but so the cars they sell no longer drain the USA's coffers and ruin our balance of trade.

It's time for legislators to think of automobile manufacturing as a key strategic element in defending the US economy.

GM, Ford, Chrysler -- they may fold. If they do it's because they were partly to blame, but since the congress failed so badly to see what was really needed to keep those industries strong, perhaps they can help bail the companies out by setting up a program so people will get help buying new cars, or retrofitting existing cars. We need to get the worst gas burners off the roads, or retrofit them so they perform much better.

GM alone has over 280,000 employees, representing probably tens of billions on salaries. If we invest, not in giving the companies money, but in giving consumers rebates for buying new US made cars that have drastically improved mileage, that will help the auto manufacturers, help consumers and help our balance of trade.

There's been a huge amount of talk about an "Apollo program" to get caught up on energy technologies. But it has not materialized. The rewards have to be there. Give consumers a $5000-$10,000 break on their taxes, if they buy a new, US manufactured hybrid or electric car. They will come. The auto industry will be rescued without engaging in corporate welfare. And if they have to deliver product to see the money, they'll speed things up.

If congress goes weak and fails again, they'll hand over corporate welfare -- billions -- to the big US automakers. That will be insanity. The answer is to demand that the auto manufacturers build products that HELP, not only their sales, but the USA's energy emergency. Ordinary efforts won't do. More can be done -- a lot more. The question is, do we have legislators with the guts to do it? The ratings of congress say no. But we can always hope that finally, they will see that it takes tough love to do what's right for corporations as well as for America. Let's hope they do that, rather than what we've become so accustomed to seeing them do.

Crossposted from