It's the Fuel Economy, Stupid


| April 8, 2004


Classic examples of 'Michigan Democrats,' Senator Carl Levin and Governor Jennifer Granholm from the critical Midwestern swing state are urging John Kerry to scale back his ambitious plans to boost Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards. As Amanda Griscom of Grist Magazine puts it, the man now firmly behind the wheel of the Democratic Party hopes to improve fuel efficiency standards 'or else the U.S. auto industry will soon be losing jobs to the Japanese and European manufacturers leading the global race to develop fuel-efficient cars.'

But Levin is concerned that tightening CAFE standards will cost jobs in the motor state. 'The senator from Massachusetts ... is simply wrong,' he protests. 'Granholm and Levin emphasize tax incentives as a good way to spur development and sales of more efficient vehicles,' Griscom writes. Furthermore, the Bush team is suffocating voters with the fact that Kerry voted for a gas tax-hike in 1993. The president's campaign team has pounced on the issue, running television attack ads in 18 states: 'Some people have wacky ideas, like taxing gasoline more so people drive less. That's John Kerry,' says the voiceover.

Yes Griscom points out that the issue of fuel efficiency vs. jobs is not as black-and-white as the Bush camp portrays it to be-not even in Michigan, whose electoral votes went to Gore in 2000 but could slide either way in November. 'The Sierra Club commissioned a poll of 650 likely voters in Michigan in 2002 and found that a surprising 77 percent supported ramping up CAFE standards to 40 mpg over 10 years,' she writes. 'And of 150 United Auto Workers households polled, a whopping 84 percent supported such standards.'
-- Jacob Wheeler

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