Pistonheads' Presidential Primer Part One

pistonheads presidential primer part one

With the US presidential caucuses and primaries scheduled to begin within a month, pistonheads may be wondering what the contenders have to say on the subject of cars. To gain some insight into their positions on issues automotive, I visited the candidate’s websites to see what, if anything, they have to offer those of us who love cars. Of course, the candidates public posturing should be taken with a large dose of skepticism; getting nominated and elected is most certainly Job One. In addition, future Congresses (and highly-paid lobbyists) will continue to hold sway over US policy. Still, to quote Thomas Jefferson: "Whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government…”

To begin this series, we’ll start with four candidates– two from each of the major political parties– Senator Hillary Clinton, Senator Barack Obama, Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Governor Mitt Romney. Here then, as best can be discerned from their respective websites, are the automotive-related public policy positions of our first four subjects.

Hillary Clinton’s website presents an “Energy Independence and Global Warming” position paper. In this highly readable document, Hillary promises that she’d create a $50b “Strategic Energy Fund” to pay for alternative energy “investments.” At least in part, oil companies would fund the fund. And guess who else? Senator Clinton also proposes increasing auto fuel efficiency standards to “55 miles per gallon by 2030.”

Finally, Senator Clinton would issue $20b worth of “Green Vehicle Bonds” to help US automakers “retool their plants” to meet the 55 mpg Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards she currently proposes.

Barack Obama offers a lengthy tome entitled “Meeting Energy Needs.” A few car-related highlights: Senator Obama claims he has “concrete plans” plans to double fuel economy standards within 18 years [but offers few specifics]. He would “protect the financial future of domestic automakers” by providing them with some “flexibility” to meet those doubled targets.

Like Senator Clinton, Senator Obama would also help domestic auto plants and parts manufacturers “retool” to meet the standards by offering tax credits and loan guarantees. Senator Obama would also expand the consumer tax credits on hybrid purchases and he’d “mandate” that all new cars sold in the US be flexible-fuel vehicles.

Rudy Giuliani offers an “Issues” page, which covers subjects ranging from fiscal discipline to the second amendment (the right to bear arms). Rudy’s position on the auto industry, CAFE, emissions, the Big 2.8, etc.? Not a word.

However, the former New York City Mayor’s blog page offers an entry chronicling a speech given during a visit to Sioux City, IA in July. “Mayor Rudy Giuliani promised that, as President, he would expand nuclear power and renewable fuels like ethanol and call for more clean coal technologies, more clean-burning natural gas, environmentally safe drilling for oil and natural gas in North America and new technologies like hybrid cars and hydrogen fuel cells.

Rudy also promises to lead America to “energy independence.” No specifics offered. Oh, and Mayor Giuliani was the Grand Marshal at the NASCAR Pepsi 400 at the Daytona Raceway back in July. How great is that?

Mitt Romney has an Issues page with a section titled: “Ending Energy Dependence.” Former Massachusetts Governor Romney also says the US must become energy independent. In a section of his site titled “The Romney Plan,” we find this quote: "I want to initiate a bold, far-reaching research initiative – an Energy Revolution, if you will. It will be our generation’s equivalent of the Manhattan Project or the mission to the Moon.” What about auto fuel efficiency, or the auto industry? Not a word.

While Governor Romney does not specifically call out the Asian auto industry when talking about economic competitors of the US, he offers this tidbit. "[W]e face a much tougher competitor or group of competitors coming from Asia than we've ever faced before. Asia is tough. There are a lot of Asians. They are hard working people. And they’re going to give us a run for our money in terms of our economic vitality."

On the subject of building and repairing transportation systems in the US, Romney would like to “invest in infrastructure projects critical to the national economy and its flow of goods and people, instead of funding home-district pork.” Good luck with that, Gov!

Again and as expected, the candidates are not about to get bogged down in specifics when it comes to, well, anything– especially when you’re looking at a subject with conflicting political implications: save our planet, free us from “oil addiction,” build mass transit systems (preferably for someone else), subsidize my damn corn field and keep the price of cars and gas low thank you very much. Still, when it comes to voting for president, “don’t ask don’t tell” is the worst of all possible policies.

Click here to go to Part Two

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2 of 32 comments
  • Virtual Insanity Virtual Insanity on Dec 06, 2007

    50merc... Its Ron Paul. In his first 100 days, he'll outlaw congress, and hand open/respond to every single piece of mail he ever receives. Gotta lover libertarians. Like anarchists without motivation.

  • Optic Optic on Dec 06, 2007

    I don't believe that a bailout is equally likely whoever gets elected. The different parties certainly have different pressures on them, though I can see either giving in. I was very pleasantly surprised when Bush basically told Detroit to go screw itself when they hinted around about bailouts.. but that may have been just rhetoric. unfortunately, no one's asking the question in debates or whatever; maybe I should have made a youtube video!

  • ToolGuy When The Grand Tour covered the Manx way back in 2016, my first thought was "That would make an ideal EV candidate." Range is not an issue, lightweight, torquey, quiet and harmonious with nature (to the end user).Could I be a prophet??
  • BetterOne Not sure where you got your info from, Corey, but in North America the 2020 Cadenza continued on with the direct-injected 3.3L Lambda II V6. Apart from a larger infotainment screen, the 2020 was notably decontented from the prior model, too - no HUD or power rear sunshade, for example.
  • Inside Looking Out It looks rather like Mini than VW. It would be nice to have solar panels on the roof, or make it delta wing.
  • Justin Palmer I know where a 97 1.8l Suzuki Sidekick sport is for sale southwest Virginia location still running needs a little transmission work
  • Ajla Does anyone ever actually pay these ridiculous 2x or more markups? You can't get a car loan for that much over MSRP so you'll need someone with a lot of cash burning their pockets. My guess is that they'll give you a "deal" and mark it down to only $5k over MSRP when buying. Or is there some other angle?