From the CleanTechnica Politics In Action Desk: Joe Manchin, the ostensibly Democratic senator from West Virginia, was at a press conference in his home state this week, where he told an audience he is opposed to the $4500 federal tax credit for electric cars made in America by union workers. The provision is a key component of President Biden’s Build Back Better infrastructure legislation, but Manchin says it’s “wrong” and “un-American.”
And what was Crazy Joe doing at the press conference? Why, celebrating a pledge by Toyota to invest $250 million in its West Virginia production facility that builds transaxles for hybrids — you know, those “self-charging” electric cars that Toyota has been peddling since the last century?
$250 million? Whoa, Nelly. Stop the presses! That’s some big news right there. Let GM and Ford invest billions in EV and battery production, Toyota’s gonna pony up $250 million to make sure Americans remain slaves to internal combustion engines for at least a few more decades. Who wouldn’t support that?
“When I heard about this, what they were putting in the bill, I went right to the sponsor [Senator Debbie Stabenow, of Michigan] and I said, ‘This is wrong. This can’t happen.’ It’s not who we are as a country. It’s not how we built this country, and the product should speak for itself,” Manchin said in an interview with Automotive News. “We shouldn’t use everyone’s tax dollars to pick winners and losers. If you’re a capitalist economy that we are in society, then you let the product speak for itself, and hopefully, we’ll get that, that’ll be corrected.”
Asked what Stabenow’s response was, he said: “Not good. I respect that, because she’s fighting for her [constituents] and I’m fighting for mine. I’m just fighting for fairness in the system, and hopefully, we’ll prevail.”
And who was Manchin rubbing elbows with at the factory this week? None other than Ted Ogawa, CEO of Toyota Motor North America, Chris Reynolds, Toyota’s chief administrative officer for corporate resources, and a raft of other Toyota executives.
In his remarks delivered on a stage feet away from Manchin, Ogawa stressed that, “To be successful, we need the opportunity to compete on an equal, level playing field with all automakers. Given that chance, without any added disadvantage placed on the backs of our team members, we are confident you will help build vehicles customers will choose in an open marketplace.”
Picking winners and losers. Level playing field. Open marketplace. Recognize those terms? They’re straight out of the Republican playbook. Corporate America doesn’t have any interest in level playing fields. They want to distort the marketplace as much as possible so that they get a permanent government-sponsored advantage over the competition whenever possible.
The union tax credit has generated a tidal wave of push back. Last week, the ambassadors from 25 nations signed a letter threatening to take the matter to the World Trade Council if it becomes law, for example. Furthermore, Tesla fans have been unhappy with it. But there is still a way to save it. If only one Republican senator, like Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee or Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, decided to back Ford and GM, which are investing billions in their states, that would help. But that would require political courage — something that is in short supply in Washington, DC, these days.
The whole Biden climate agenda has faced furious resistance from the start. Our political leaders would prefer to kick the can down the road some more rather than stand up for the Earth and the people who live here. As Carl Sagan said, “For all our conceits about being the center of the universe, we live in a routine planet of a humdrum star stuck away in an obscure corner … on an unexceptional galaxy which is one of about 100 billion galaxies. That is the fundamental fact of the universe we inhabit, and it is very good for us to understand that.”
And yet so few do, least of all Crazy Joe Manchin. He thinks it’s more American to back a Japanese corporation that makes gas-powered fake electric cars rather than American companies that make the real electric cars that are vital to lowering global carbon emissions. Biden’s Build Back Better legislation may have some issues, but it’s not un-American, senator. You are.
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