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Taxpayers Should Not Be Forced to Pay Subsidies for Electric Vehicles: Let the Subsidies Die!

By George LandrithFrontiers of Freedom

The taxpayer provided $7,500 subsidy to manufacturers of electric vehicles is about to expire.  Not surprisingly, two of the biggest beneficiaries of this huge subsidy — General Motors and Tesla — are frantically trying to extend the subsidy and keep taxpayer money flowing into their bank accounts.  Most of this effort is predictably supported by Democrats in Congress — the same people who enthusiastically lent there verbal support to the idiotic and laughably impractical “Green New Deal.” 

Unfortunately, there are also a few Republicans who are joining the effort to extend the flow of taxpayer dollars to special interests like Tesla and GM. Elon Musk has made a handsome fortune by getting government to subsidize his businesses. For any Republican to support this approach is shortsighted and foolish. Giving the hard left political cover by making this insanity appear “bipartisan” is counterproductive. Serious minded legislators should not breathe life into extraordinarily bad ideas that are about to expire. 

The Green New Deal is on its face absurd.  No serious thinker can support the idea of government outlawing automobiles and planes, or mandating that every building in America either be entirely retrofitted or demolished and rebuilt. If a high school senior suggested this in a civics paper, he would have to be given a failing grade for proposing something that is not remotely plausible. Just as a research paper that calls for the licensing and regulation of unicorns, should be met with laughter and a failing grade, so too should the Green New Deal. Extending and expanding taxpayer provided subsidies for electric vehicles is simply taking bits and pieces of the zany Green New Deal and implementing them a piece at a time. The Green new deal is stupid as a whole and also stupid if taken a piece at a time. 

Too often special interests with large lobbing operations wield their insider influence to get government to give them benefits and subsidies that are both indefensible and unjust. Government power should not be used to take money from single mothers struggling to make ends meet and then give that money to well-to-do professionals who want to drive fancy electric sports cars or to the corporations that make them. Yet, that is precisely what the subsidies for electric vehicle does — take money from hard working Americans and give it to wealthy corporations and individuals.

But the Left doesn’t merely want to extend the subsidies for electric vehicles, they also want to expand and grow the subsidies. Under current law, the subsidies are limited to 200,000 vehicles per manufacturer.  But if the subsidy is revived, those doing the reviving, want to lift that 200,000 car limit and simply give Tesla and GM an unlimited supply of taxpayer cash. 

When this subsidy was created, it was when the US was concerned about our dependence on foreign oil. But now America is a net oil exporter so the rationale is no longer there. And those who claim that electric vehicles are “cleaner” do not take into account things like the electricity that these vehicles use is generated at power plants that burn coal and natural gas. So to call them “zero emission vehicles” is, quite frankly, not honest or accurate. Moreover, the batteries used in electric vehicles are extraordinarily unfriendly to the environment. And gasoline vehicles are now so much more clean, efficient and environmentally friendly, that electric vehicles provide no substantial environmental benefit, according to a recent study by the Manhaattan Institute for Policy Research.  So arguing for these subsides on environmental grounds is pretty lame. 

But the real kicker is that the electric vehicle subsidies go almost exclusively to the rich. More than half claiming the subsidy earn more than $200,000 a year and nearly 80% claiming the subsidy earn more than $100,000 a year, according to a recent study by the Pacific Research Institute. There is no good reason to extend and expand a government program that taxes working class Americans so that a few rich guys can get some help to buy an expensive electric sports car. And the idea that large corporations with vast lobbying operations like Tesla and GM should be getting taxpayer cash is manifestly absurd. 

If Americans want to buy electric cars, let them! But don’t require their neighbors or even worse, the working poor, to help pay for their fancy, new electric sports car! It is time for Congress to stop the insanity and stop taking money from hard working Americans and giving it to the rich to help them pay for their vanity sports car purchases.  Congress should let the subsidy for electric vehicles die. Extending the subsidy would be an act of political avarice, cowardice and mendacity. 


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