By on November 3, 2017

Regardless of whether you like or loathe the Trump Administration, you have to admit it has a different view of what’s “on the table” than its immediate predecessors did. EV credits. NAFTA. Global trade agreements. Tariffs. It is, to quote a popular movie of 1977, a period of civil war, only the war is being fought on the battleground of public opinion.

There will be winners and losers out of this new normal, the same way there were winners and losers as a result of EPA, DOT, and NHTSA regulations that began under Nixon and steadily increased in power until Ronald Reagan came into office and deaded shit, as Ja Rule would say. I get the feeling that everything is up for grabs, whether it’s the chicken tax or CAFE.

Let’s say you were appointed “car czar” by President Trump. What would you do with that power?


I’ll tell you what I would do, just for the hell of it. I would ask my labor experts to tell me how closely different countries adhered to American standards of workplace safety, pollution regulations, and other health-and-welfare metrics. Then I’d use that to apply an adjustment tariff to automobiles and automobile parts that came into this country. If they say Germany is the same or better than America on all those standards, then I’d apply a tariff of zero. If they tell me China is the worst, then I’d apply a 100-percent tariff. Mexico, Indonesia, and other providers of motor vehicles (Danger Girl’s Yamaha R3 was made in Thailand!) would fall somewhere in the middle.

I’d keep the EV rebate, but it would only apply to domestically produced vehicles. I’d eliminate the light-truck distinction for CAFE and I’d impose a fleet average of 30 mpg, which would take a few years to meet. I would ban diesel engines from use on public roads until I was satisfied that the harmful effect of particulates had been thoroughly investigated by the EPA. The same might have to go for direct injection, sadly.

Finally, I would adopt a special regulatory class for vehicles weighing under 1,500 pounds dry. They’d be exempt from crash regulations and they would only have to meet motorcycle emissions levels. That should incentivize manufacturers to create smaller, lighter vehicles for everyday use.

Those are my stupid ideas. What are yours?

[Image: 410(k) 2012/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)]

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58 Comments on “QOTD: Where You Wanna Put That Pork?...”


  • avatar
    Chris Tonn

    “I would ban diesel engines from use on public roads until I was satisfied that the harmful effect of particulates had been thoroughly investigated by the EPA.”

    Would over-the-road trucks be exempt from this diesel ban?

    • 0 avatar
      VW4motion

      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5352477/

      Maybe if your child died of lung cancer you would be posting a different tune. Or maybe not.

      • 0 avatar
        mason

        I can appreciate ones desire for cleaner air, but the irony here is strong given every.single.item. you touch or consume through out the day was delivered to you by a diesel engine.
        So, how much of your lifestyle are you willing to sacrifice?

  • avatar
    VW4motion

    Jack, with all that thinking you will undoubtedly be called a liberal. Which at this time in political discourse just means you have critical thinking abilities.

    • 0 avatar

      Few conceipts are as dangerous as the idea that one is smarter than one’s opponents, other than, perhaps, the idea that because one is smart he is correct in all things. A large percentage of Nazi concentration, labor, and death camp commandants had PhD or MD degrees. Many Al Quaeda and other Jihadi leaders have been engineers and doctors.

  • avatar
    ajla

    “What would you do with that power?”

    Whatever we had in place during 1999 is what we will have during my reign.

  • avatar
    threeer

    I’d at least raise the tariff rate on countries like China to be equal to what they charge goods coming into their own country that we produce. And while we’re at it, if said country requires an American country to form a lopsided JV with a home-grown country, then same would apply for setting up shop in America. I’d say that they would also need to fork over their technological know-how, but they usually just rip ours off if we don’t, so there is that.

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    My stupid ideas are as follows.

    I would eliminate CAFE, gubment should not be mandating fuel economy, the free market should dictate economy and economics per se. I would however substantially increase the road tax on fuel which as we know has not been increased since 1993. There will also need to be some sort of road use tax applied to the EV’s from a registration standpoint as these vehicles currently use our roads and highways free of charge, and that is not ok. I struggle to think the B&B here is in disagreement regarding the state of disrepair of our road and bridge infrastructure in this country.

    As fuel prices increase the masses will shift to more FE vehicles, we saw this happen very quickly in 09′ when fuel prices were briefly $5 a gallon. We can achieve multiple goals and reduce the government intervention by using tax law. The nice thing with tax law (oxymoron I know) is the tax increase could be phased in over a period of time as to not shock the market. We know the auto manufacturers and can’t change on a dime nor can the consumer. A Five or ten year phase in/out would give plenty of advance notice for both the consumer and factories to make the appropriate changes to their personal finances or business model.

    • 0 avatar
      jkross22

      Fuel tax in CA was just increased by 12 cents to 39.8 cents per gallon. Regressive taxes hurt the poor the most. When is enough enough?

      We all know this isn’t for roads. This is for the HSR project that can’t pay for itself.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      “…gubment should not be mandating fuel economy…”

      Wouldn’t increasing the fuel tax (dramatically), end up “mandating fuel economy” except in a disgusting way? Think “Europe”…

      If you already drive a subcompact and can barely feed that, you move down to a Moped? As a family car?? Or you gotta cram a family of 7 into a Chevy Sonic?

      The US economic structure and urban development/sprawl since the ’40s were all designed around the “promise” of cheap fuel.

      Why throw a wrench in it now? Let America (continue to) be “America”.

      How about you shut up and move into a “tiny house”, off grid, no internet connection.

      Wasn’t it “Make America great again”? Did you take that to mean “Turn America into a euroclusterfuk?

      • 0 avatar
        87 Morgan

        jkross22…I don’t live in CA so I was not aware of a fuel tax increase there. My only advice would be to leave CA ASAP as the over tax issue there is not going to get any better in the near term.

        Denvermike…If you already drive a subcompact and can barely feed that, you move down to a Moped? As a family car?? Or you gotta cram a family of 7 into a Chevy Sonic?
        This hypothetical person should have used birth control. If they can’t buy $2.27 gas for there 35 mpg subcompact car now, most likely they couldn’t buy it when gas was $2.17 or when it goes to $2.47.

        • 0 avatar
          DenverMike

          “Should Have Used Birth Control!”

          Yep that should be your campaign slogan (SHUBC)! That’ll get you elected no doubt. Yes we need to end all child subsidies. Or what about: “You Wanted To Play You Gotta Pay!” That one’s my personal favorite.

          But for whatever reason, people get by with cheap little cars. Maybe they have to, or they’re trying to do the right thing. So any sizable fuel tax increase would hit everyonebut mostly those that aren’t the “problem”. Meaning those that use more than the “need” to.

          Except those that needlessly use excessive fuel can probably afford any price/tax increase. The entire concept is real ignorant. Ask Europe how it’s worked out for them so far. A huge reason for Europe’s high fuel tax was to protect their domestic auto industry. Disasterous outcome regardless.

          • 0 avatar
            deanst

            You could increase the tax by $1 per gallon and gas would still be cheaper than a few years ago. The impact on poor residents could be easily offset by an annual tax rebate dependent on income.

            It amazes me the knots people while twist themself into just because they don’t want to pay tax. The states of many roads is abysmal, and making motorists pay for improvements seems quite logical. You can argue that the taxes will spent elsewhere, but then you are arguing that the system is corrupt and that there should be no taxes whatsoever. So how do we then fund government?

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            “It amazes me the knots people while twist themself into just because they don’t want to pay tax. The states of many roads is abysmal, and making motorists pay for improvements seems quite logical.”

            Usual response:

            “I pay too much taxes already! CUT SOMETHING ELSE!”

            “Like what?”

            “…. SOMETHING ELSE!”

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            Realisticly it’s a tiny percentage of fuel users that need to be punished financially for their wasteful ways, while everyone else, the innocent would be forced to pay “up front” until the new bureaucracy decides who’s the “bad actors”, coal rollers, bro-dozers, etc, and issues everyone else rebate checks, after reviewing a stack of receipts that could reach the moon.

            Except most bad actors can afford fuel no matter how expensive it climbs. So what would be solved as far as increasing US fleet average mpg? Would it not be exponentially easier to just tax the bad actors at the DMV until they submit a legit legal reason for 9,000 lbs GVWR, or 15 mpg (or less) and exceeding say 5,000 miles a year?

        • 0 avatar
          el scotto

          Why, government provided health insurance should have paid for the female’s birth control. Heck, some private insurers provide free viagra and make women pay for their birth control. Just observations.

    • 0 avatar
      ect

      CAFE could and should be replaced by an excise tax based on each model’s fuel consumption (the lower the mileage, the higher the tax). That would enable people to buy whatever they want, as long as they’re willing to pay for it.

      Increasing gas taxes is long overdue.

      Most of Jack’s proposals couldn’t be implemented, as they violate WTO and other trade agreements that the US is subject to.

      • 0 avatar
        BobNelson

        “Increasing gas taxes is long overdue.”

        Rather than increase gas taxes, we should eliminate subsidies to the petroleum industry. The result at the pump would be the same, but Big Oil would no longer be getting free money from taxpayers.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    I’d ask BAFO what to do, how to go about it, then do the exact opposite.

  • avatar
    kosmo

    Right now, CA regs push automakers to produce a certain quantity (or percent?) of electric vehicles.

    I’d do the same for wagons that weigh less than 3,200 pounds, have 300 hp, and a 6 MT.

    Brown versions would receive double credit!

  • avatar
    dawooj

    I like the domestic EV rebate and eliminating light-truck distinction/30 mpg fleet avg.

    Eliminate CAFE and have single standard for emissions and crash safety negotiated with EU. This would save manufacturers a lot of money.

    Tighten up diesel truck regulations. Raise fuel taxes and actually use the money raised for infrastructure.

    Make driver license standards harder.

    • 0 avatar
      mason

      “Tighten up diesel truck regulations.”

      Er, where have you been the last 10 years? That is precisely what has been happening, and at an infinitely faster pace than gasoline engines. GHG phase 1 class 6 and 8 engines are currently being manufactured and sold in the US. This means not only a 20% reduction in GHG emissions per ton mile over previous gen diesel emissions – but also a roughly 20% reduction in fuel consumption. In lamens terms that’s about 5 gallons every 100 miles travelled. And there’s another round on the way.
      Meanwhile virtually all of Asia still insists on running 50+ ppm sulfur diesel – along with 20+ year old engine technology. And I won’t even get into industrial pollution. Anybody that still wonders why Trump pulled out of the money laundering scheme known as the Paris Accord needs their heads examined.

  • avatar
    05lgt

    Well, since the last (current) administration fired or marginalized the experts that have actual subject matter knowledge in this country I’d just mandate that we follow EU regulations. They still have scientists on staff…

    • 0 avatar
      deanst

      I guess you agree with the EU notion that people with diabetes shouldn’t be allowed to drive? Apparently it was widely mocked and never enforced, but it sounds like a good idea to me – think of all,the traffic it would eliminate!

      • 0 avatar
        JimZ

        er, you can have your license suspended in the US if you’re insulin-dependent and you have more than one on-road hypoglycemia incident.

        • 0 avatar
          hotdog453

          Yeah. My dad and I are both type 1s, and he passed out and wrecked a number of years ago. It was basically a driving under the influence wreck and there was the threat of losing his license if it happened again.

      • 0 avatar
        BobNelson

        “… the EU notion that people with diabetes shouldn’t be allowed to drive…”

        WTF?

        You need to stop reading crazy websites. There is no EU-wide highway code. And I can at least assure you that there’s no such “diabetes” rule in France.

        This kind of nonsense is nowhere near passing any “fake news smell-test”.

  • avatar
    IBx1

    I’d install emissions exceptions for performance cars so we can go back to buying MKIV Supra’s and FD RX-7’s, and similarly I’d remove the import ban altogether so that anyone who can pay freight and title fees can bring over the R34 GT-R of their dreams.

    I know I got everyone’s vote here anyway.

  • avatar
    Alfisti

    I’d change the baseline metric for fuel economy from MPG to avg cost per year. Why? Because the gap between regular and premium gas seem sto be forever growing and i think some people are blind to the real cost of this as a consumer.

  • avatar
    cimarron typeR

    -I’d definitely keep the EV tax break , I kinda feel for the USDM trying to innovate while still turning a profit during while the UAW is still alive
    -+1 on the gas tax… half the reason people are buying CUV are because their roads are 3rd world
    -give a massive tax break on electric trucks/panel vans when they’re finally mass produced
    -put a governor on current 18 wheelers to operate from 7am-7pm, I’m tired of reading about some poor chap in his Malibu burning to death from being rear ended by an empty 18 wheeler going 80mph in the middle of rush hour . I could care less if my cabbage costs .30 more at the store
    -++++1 on JB import tax scale, in fact , lets just call it the Baruth Tax Formula
    -I’m afraid if we S**t-can CAFE the US would only produce 3 models-F150, Yukon, Renegade

  • avatar
    BobNelson

    “I’ll tell you what I would do, just for the hell of it. I would ask my labor experts to tell me how closely different countries adhered to American standards of workplace safety, pollution regulations, and other health-and-welfare metrics.”

    Beware… If the US does this, then so will others. And the US just pulled out of the Paris agreement on climate change, so we’d probably get hit with giant duties.

    The simplest way to manage all your topics (and to save lots of money) would be to eliminate petroleum subsidies, and let the pump price rise to its natural level of something like $10 a gallon.

    No more need for EV subsidies. IC vehicles would downsize in a hurry. And we could eliminate the whole CAFE bureaucracy.

    • 0 avatar
      deanst

      The u.s. would face huge tariffs if they tried to export without giving their citizens health care – baruth approved!

      • 0 avatar
        BobNelson

        “The u.s. would face huge tariffs if they tried to export without giving their citizens health care – baruth approved!”

        The US can apply any import duties it wishes. But international trade has a lot of tit-for-tat, so you’re probably right. Why would countries that supply good healthcare to their residents allow American low-cost-labor-because-no-social-safety-net “dumping”?

        There’s an aphorism about people who live in glass houses…

  • avatar
    Felix Hoenikker

    I’d like to see an import tax on all manufactured goods coming from countries that we run a trade deficit with to be used solely to fund social welfare benefits including health care caused by loss of jobs to said imported goods.

    • 0 avatar
      BobNelson

      “an import tax on all manufactured goods coming from countries that we run a trade deficit with”

      There would, of course, be reciprocity. Countries with trade deficits with the US would do the same.

      This whole topic is a trade-off. Anything that is done to protect American jobs would hurt American consumers (who would no longer have access to cheaper imports).

      I don’t want to choose between hurting middle/lower class employees, or hurting middle/lower class consumers. I think there are other battles, in favor of BOTH groups, at the expense of the ultra-rich.

      • 0 avatar
        arach

        The problem is, Society can never outsmart an individual.

        the ultra rich are unstoppable. Trying to fight them only hurts poor. I truly believe that.

        I’m not “ultra rich” by any means, but I assure you as I aged and became wealthier, I paid much much less in taxes than I did when I was young and poor.

        So Try to penalize the ultra-rich and I guarantee those who will be penalized the most are the middle-class and poor.

        The Robinhood theory of economics forgets the fact that the rich will adapt. Steal from the cart coming through the woods, and they’ll stop bringing a cart through the woods… they’ll fly over instead, or boat around, forcing the “tax” to be paid by the poor and middle class that cannot afford a boat or a plane.

        Instead of fighting them, why not just become one?

  • avatar
    el scotto

    Y’all can address me as “guv’nor” as I get out of the black suburban.

  • avatar
    jpolicke

    Keep the EV tax incentive but limit it to cars with a base MSRP of $40,000 or less. If you can afford to buy an EV that starts at $75k and rapidly goes up to 6 figures from there, you don’t need the taxpayers’ help to buy it.

    Eliminate the federal gas tax. The Interstate system was finished long ago. I don’t expect people from Texas to help pay for a bridge over the Hudson River, and I don’t see why I should chip in for roads in Illinois. Let each state set its own gas tax where it needs to be to support its own infrastructure.

  • avatar
    deanst

    I can’t see FCA going from a 21 mpg fleet to 30 mpg fleet anytime soon.

    • 0 avatar
      arach

      I don’t get the theory behind it.

      I mean I kind of due, its a reverse subsidy- IE in order to stay in business you have to sell what people want (15 MPG vehicles), then to keep from getting hit with billions in fines, you have to make your average higher, therefore you research new tech and then give it away to people that get 45 MPG, so you average 30.

      I just think its better to hit the consumers and force the consumers to want smaller vehicles (sin tax) than it is to do this roundabout way.

      Its not going to be long before every Ram 1500 comes with a 1 cylinder 100 MPG pod just to average out the fuel economy.

      speaking of that, maybe that IS a good business model…

  • avatar
    conundrum

    “Let’s say you were appointed “car czar” by President Trump. What would you do with that power?”

    Stand around and blame everyone else except my billionaire buddies for exporting jobs overseas in the first place. Then apply tariffs on cars imported from other countries based on old wives’ tales about labor standards, while conveniently forgetting the EPA is dismantling the US’s. Hordes of Americans, unable to understand that anywhere else might offer a life beyond foodstamps would bray in approval.

  • avatar
    ptschett

    Ban diesel engines from public roads till the EPA completes a review? Do you think there are alternatives available to replace the existing vehicle stock to handle first-, intermediate- and last-mile food transportation, or do you actually just want to watch the world burn?

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    I would use my office to enrich myself by any and all means possible. Then when I was done write a tell all book further enriching myself. After that id go around and give paid speeches about everything wrong with the auto industry. Lastly I’d frequently post here about what the industry needs to do and how I’m smarter than all of you because I was the “car czar”

  • avatar
    arach

    Honestly?

    I’d remove CAFE completely, and cut back on EPA funding. I’d remove 100% of the ethanol subsidies.

    I’d raise the gas tax (or investigate getting rid of the gas tax and putting in a massive tire tax, which makes sense if you think about it, but people would find loop holes)

    I’d stop the allowance of gas-tax proceeds to go into the general accounting accounts, and allow it to be used only for road infrastructure

    And I’d set up a charging standard for the country, and assure every gov’t operated rest area had fast chargers.

  • avatar
    tekdemon

    I guess you really want the Detroit 3 to need another bailout or something since that’s all your suggested plan would accomplish, bankrupting the American auto industry. Tariffs aren’t a one way street, any country you slap tariffs on will slap you right back.

    Do you think American car companies could compete with German car companies if American cars were all hit with 100% taxes in China in return for the same rate on their cars, but German cars were hit with 0% taxes here and 2.5% in China?

    The German car companies would love it for sure, so I guess your plan is to invest in VW shares before implementing this?

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