- May 16, 2007
California AG says feds may have to bail out US automakers
Of all people and of all places. Normally, California is the state that launches all sorts of initiatives that drive carmakers into a frenzy. Now, The Golden State is the one asserting that the national government might need to drop a few billion large to save The Big Three -- with a few left-handed compliments to go with it, of course.
Jerry Brown, the California Attorney General, said "The American auto industry is in deep trouble and they may require subsidies. They may have to be bailed out by the federal government that has just enabled their inefficiency and their gas guzzling." It's an intriguing position, because essentially, what he's saying is that the government that has allowed American car companies to be profligate with natural resources must now bail them out because it has allowed them to be profligate with natural resources. Twelve states are suing the US government over federal fuel efficiency standards, but Brown is then asking the government to bail them out if there are drastic penalties to pay or changes necessary for those automakers to enact. Brown said "The auto companies are in such a mess, because they persistently refuse to build fuel-efficient cars, that they might find it financially impossible to do the right thing. If that proves to be the case, I think Congress has to look at ways of helping them."
The case won't be decided for some time, but the NHTSA says that is out to balance "economic practicability and technological feasibility," and that it is more concerned with energy conservation than environmental protection. At heart, while it looks like Attorney General Brown wants to do the right thing -- who's the piper, and who's really responsible to pay?