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Romney says the new standards are "extreme," but Obama disagrees

This week was particularly monumental for the auto industry as the Obama administration finalized the new Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards. The new rules have faced some criticism, but President Barack Obama isn’t backing down.
The criticism comes from Obama’s presidential election opponent Mitt Romney, who believes there is a better method of increasing fuel economy than changing CAFE standards.

"Just yesterday, my opponent called my position on fuel efficiency standards extreme," said Obama. "It doesn't seem extreme to me to want to build more fuel efficient cars. Maybe the steam engine is more his speed."

Obama further added that the new CAFE standards will allow U.S. drivers to fill up their gas tanks "half as often." But when the new rules were finalized Tuesday, Romney failed to see the benefit to driving citizens. 

"Governor Romney opposes the extreme standards that President Obama has imposed, which will limit the choices available to American families," said Andrea Saul, Romney spokeswoman. "The president tells voters that his regulations will save them thousands of dollars at the pump, but always forgets to mention that the savings will be wiped out by having to pay thousands of dollars more upfront for unproven technology that they may not even want."

The new fuel efficiency standards for 2017-2025 will cost the auto industry $157.3 billion and add an average of $2,000 extra to the sticker price of new autos.

While some are clearly unhappy with the new standards, others are seeing added benefits. Honda, for example, was delighted to see that the standards provided extra credits for those selling natural gas-powered vehicles. Tesla also jumped on the CAFE bandwagon when it learned that it could sell any credits for surpassing the standards to companies that haven't.

The CAFE standards will raise the average fuel efficiency of cars and light trucks to 54.5 mpg by model year 2025. These new standards, which were created by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOTs) National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), were based off of the Obama Administration's first standards raised average fuel efficiency to 35.5 mpg by 2016. It was intended for cars and light trucks during model years 2011-2016.

The 54.5 mpg CAFE standard aims to save consumers more than $1.7 trillion at the gas pump, cut U.S. oil consumption by 12 billion barrels, reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 6 billion metric tons over the course of the program, and encourage the adoption of autos like electric vehicles (EVs) and plug-in hybrids. 

Source: The Detroit News

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RE: Clueless
By MadMan007 on 8/30/2012 8:22:55 PM , Rating: 1
Wrong, CAFE has been increased slowly but steadily over the years:

RE: Clueless
By Brandon Hill on 8/30/2012 8:27:49 PM , Rating: 5
Are we looking at the same chart? Passenger car CAFE was stuck at 27.5 for TWO DECADES!

RE: Clueless
By MadMan007 on 8/31/2012 6:35:35 AM , Rating: 1
Yup, CAFE sure did stay the same for 20 years. That doesn't mean it never went up. What's also missing is data on actual fleet fuel economy during that flat stretch. Did it go up or not? Just because some vehicles got more fuel efficient doesn't mean the average went up. That data would be useful to see whether CAFE actually affects average fuel economy or not.

If you can find it, please post!

RE: Clueless
By MadMan007 on 8/31/2012 6:41:59 AM , Rating: 2
Oh, one other thing to note: gas guzzler tax. It's been around since 1978 (shortly after CAFE) but was most recently modified in 1991...interestingly that's right at the start of the 20 years of flat CAFE requirements for passenger vehicles. I doubt that's a coincidence.

RE: Clueless
By Reclaimer77 on 8/30/2012 8:32:46 PM , Rating: 3
Slow and steady? Those increases are so mild as to be nearly irrelevant. And there are entire DECADES where they didn't increase at all. The natural progression of MPG improvements by the manufacturers FAR outpace those "requirements". That's my entire point. Not wrong, FACT.

Notice that hybrids were being developed during the period where CAFE standards remained the same for nearly TWENTY years. I mean come on, nuff said. End of discussion honestly.

Now you can try to make the argument that a 10% CAFE increase somehow lead to 30+% fleet MPG improvements, you're welcome to try. But I don't buy it.

Fuel prices and market forces have FAR more of an impact on the buying trends than any Federal regulation. Take the SUV craze of the early 2000's for example. When fuel prices started to spike, people were dropping them like they were stolen. Capitalism is self-balancing that way.

RE: Clueless
By Granseth on 8/30/2012 8:45:14 PM , Rating: 1
except that capitalism is reactive, not proactive. There might sometimes be better to have some regulations to get a head start.

RE: Clueless
By FITCamaro on 8/30/2012 11:02:21 PM , Rating: 1
When the government actually has the authority to do it you might have a valid point.

Right now, they lack the authority. But we don't have enough politicians who fight against this stuff to stop them from exceeding their authority.

RE: Clueless
By teldar on 8/30/2012 10:05:49 PM , Rating: 2
No. I've always planned car purchase at least in part on mileage. Just because not everyone does is no reason to force them to.

RE: Clueless
By StevoLincolnite on 8/30/2012 11:38:44 PM , Rating: 2
I used to do the same.
Then I realized I could have the best of both worlds by having a dual fuel vehicle that ran Petrol and LPG gas.
LPG Gas is almost half the price, slightly less economy, but it is ohhhh sooo cheap here, cleaner too!

RE: Clueless
By Ringold on 8/30/12, Rating: 0
RE: Clueless
By Paj on 8/31/2012 8:55:23 AM , Rating: 2
You're correct in your examples, but hopelessly incorrect in your conclusion.

Germany is currently the strongest economy in Europe, and the fourth largest in the world, after being defeated in two world wars, having to rebuild an entire industrial base and economy from scratch in just 70 years, and unify an ideologically divided country.

How do you think they did that? Through massive PUBLIC investment into Germany's infrastructure, currency reform, and loosening of regulation. This is despite having their industrial capacity dismantled as punishment for the war.

The point is, it was through a huge, collective effort and collaboration between GOVERNMENT and INDUSTRY that this succeeded. There is no silver bullet to economic recovery. Austerity doesnt work - as every European economy can clearly demonstrate. Massive public investment on its own, without improving efficiency and bureaucracy, wont work either. But having a government work hand in hand with industry, encouraging and supporting investment, creation of industries, that gets economies moving. History has shown time and time again that this works.

Both sides of the ideological spectrum need to get over their knee-jerk opposition to alternating theories, and meet each other in the middle. Mix capitalism and socialism. Improve regulation in some areas, reduce it in others. Base it on historical examples and evidence, not ideology.

RE: Clueless
By Reclaimer77 on 8/31/2012 9:30:56 AM , Rating: 2
Paj accepting your premise for arguments sake about Germany, would you say the Obama Administration can objectively be said to have been working "hand in hand" with our Industrial sector?

This isn't collaboration, it's fascism. In this case the automakers begged Obama for a compromise. Did he listen? Does he ever?

Mix capitalism and socialism.

We already have. This isn't a purely capitalist country, and hasn't been in nearly a century.

RE: Clueless
By Rukkian on 8/31/2012 9:54:18 AM , Rating: 2
While I do not agree with the regulation, I do not think you are correct in this. The automakers were part of setting up the standards. I think that the only reason they are publicly putting up a problem with it is to say they fought to keep prices low, so when they do raise prices, they can blame it on Obama.

Buick is now making e-assist standard on the regal at a cost of $2k, and they can blame it all on cafe.

RE: Clueless
By Reclaimer77 on 8/31/2012 4:44:50 PM , Rating: 2
The automakers were part of setting up the standards.

Yes much like a child is a "part" of the process of being grounded by a parent. We're grounding you and this is why. Oh you don't like it? Tough cookies, you're grounded anyway, but thank you for sharing your concerns.

There's slews of documentation from business leaders who have been "invited" by Obama to "share" their views on something. It's a complete waste of time because he just goes ahead with his plans regardless of any input or expertise they might give.

This situation is NOTHING like your example of Germany. There the Government actually worked with the industrial sector to BOOST Capitalism. There's a word for it: Wirtschaftswunder

RE: Clueless
By KoS on 8/31/2012 9:51:40 AM , Rating: 2
Umm you have left out a few important points.

For one, among many, the billions put into Germany by the US to help rebuild the country after WW2. And Germany doesn't have to divert a ton of money to defense, since the US carries the burden.

Heck, we still partial prop-up the economy of Germany by having all those military bases and personnel there in country. It was sometime during the Clinton or Bush Admin there were talks about closing alot of those bases in Germany. The Germans were not happy, due to the hugh impact it would have had on their economy.

That magic of 70 years isn't quite as straight forward as you would want it to seem. Quite honestly Germany wouldnt' be where they are today if it wasn't for the help of the US.

Again, where did the money come from in the first place for the "massive public investment"?? From the private sector!! The market place, captalism.

Ahh the meeting in the middle crap. You don't meet people in the middle when their ideas are wrong to begin with.

RE: Clueless
By Paj on 9/3/2012 10:47:36 AM , Rating: 2
Germany's infrastructure was dismantled during the Marshall Plan. Billions were taken OUT of Germany, industrial patents were stolen, their manufacturing and infrastructure fell to 50% of 1938 levels, and the population began to starve. The allies actually charged the Germans 7 billion a year as occupation costs.

Fair pay for Hitler's work in WW2 perhaps, but thats for another debate. Eventually, the attitude did soften, and its estimated that Germany received about 1 billion over the course of the Plan, but the cost to industry and economy were incalculable.

It only began to pick up for them again in the 50s, mainly due to the work of their Finance Minister at the time, the creation of the Deutsch mark, and by joining the European Coal and Steel Community.

You're right that the US military presence is important for many small towns in the south, due to the ancillary service industries that sprang up to support the bases. But to say its 'propping up' the economy in any significant way doesn't really hold water.

You seem to think Im anti-capitalism. I'm not. I think a lot of elements of capitalism are necessary. What is needed (and what works) is balance, because the problems arent black and white, theyre infinite shades of grey.

RE: Clueless
By MZperX on 8/31/2012 1:01:07 PM , Rating: 2
Can you say "Marshall Plan"?

RE: Clueless
By Ringold on 8/31/2012 5:16:29 PM , Rating: 2
How do you think they did that? Through massive PUBLIC investment into Germany's infrastructure, currency reform, and loosening of regulation.

Nobody really denies roads are a good thing. However, you'd be the first person to ever to bring that up as why Germany is currently leading Europe. They all dumped tons of money in to those things. Greece has very nice public transport, I am told, and no lack of roads or infrastructure.

Germany leads because of its Mittelstand and a recent government history of forcing Germany to be competitive globally, not retreating and cowering behind trade barriers and government largesse the way France, Italy, Greece and others did.

RE: Clueless
By MadMan007 on 8/31/2012 6:17:46 AM , Rating: 2
Yup, it stayed the same for passenger cars for a long time. It did go up slowly for light trucks. Nonetheless that's different from your statement that CAFE never changed. If that were true, it would still be at 18.0 for passegner cars.

Now, time for some basic math: CAFE is currently 67% higher than the initial standard for passenger cars, for light trucks 'combined' it is 40% higher. Both those increases, remarkably, are higher than the 30% you apparently made up - significantly so in the case of passenger cars.

Those are simple, basic facts, not based on opinion or ideology. I know you hate everything the government does, aside perhaps from employing you, but why you are arguing when I was merely providing simple factual correction I don't understand.

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