Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Drive What I Mandate You Should, Not What I Drive

Most of the presidential candidates support hiking federal fuel efficiency laws. But do they practice what they preach about fuel efficiency when it comes to the vehicles they drive? Hardly. A review of some of the vehicles the candidates drive appears in today's Detroit News editorial by R. Burr and H. Payne:

Mike Huckabee: "When it comes to his own vehicles, the Baptist minister strays from his scripture of fuel efficiency." Vehicles includes a 2007 Chevy Tahoe (16 mgp, pictured above) and a Chevrolet Silverado (12 mpg) two of the biggest light trucks on the planet.

John McCain: Vehicles include a Lexus (his wife's) and a CTS Cadillac (18 mpg).

Barack Obama: Travels with a Secret Service convoy of Chevy Suburban SUVs (12 mpg). His personal vehicle was a gas-guzzling, 340 horsepower Chrysler 300C (17 mpg) until he was exposed, and he bought a more politically correct Ford Escape SUV hybrid (27 mpg).

John Edwards: Now drives an Escape hybrid (30 mpg) after he was inconveniently caught driving a bigger SUV last summer while preaching that Americans should sacrifice their SUVs.


At 1/15/2008 3:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's all smoke and mirrors or power and control. A US Congressional panel is proposing a 40-cents fuel tax, "to pay for infrastructure." It wouldn't take much digging to find out where the current tax money has/is been/being spent, but I don't have time to do it.



At 1/15/2008 4:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mandates are only for the little people. Our politicians are bought and paid for with a non stop revolving door between Wall Street- Lobbyist-DC

At 1/15/2008 6:16 PM, Blogger juandos said...

"It wouldn't take much digging to find out where the current tax money has/is been/being spent"

Hey Anon @ 3:11PM consider the following from the Heritage Foundation: Frittering away road money

October 1, 2007

Since 1982, Congress has siphoned $101 billion (in 2007 buying power) from the Highway Trust Fund to subsidize the 2 percent of travel that uses mass transit. Even while bridges slipped closer to collapse, Congress diverted additional billions from trust funds to build bicycle paths.

There's talk of starting a "new" trust fund by raising gas taxes. That same line was used to sell the old trust fund - raided so often it now resembles a leaky bucket.

Even fuel taxes spent on highways are often squandered. Thanks to the Davis-Bacon Act and other bureaucratic red tape, projects cost billions more than they should. And too many projects are picked for political merit rather than public safety. The 2005 transportation bill allocated $315 million for Alaska's infamous Bridge to Nowhere, plus nearly $24 billion in 6,000 other congressional earmarks. Minnesota got $453 million in earmarks for 144 other projects, but none to fix the bridge that has fallen.
(there is more)

At 1/15/2008 7:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah I had a field day uncovering the shameless, pathetic blaming Rep. Oberstar and Sen. Klobuchar of Minnesota did after the bridge collapse in his state:

"This administration failed to support robust investment in surface transportation and the funding to accompany it.” said Oberstar. He continued by saying that in 2009, Congress won't settle for a “bargain basement” measure.

Said Senator Klobuchar: "We have to get to the bottom of this."

From Time:
"Democratic Congressman James Oberstar of Minnesota — his successor as chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee — bragged about bagging 57 "high-priority projects" for his district in the bill, including a visitor center at Mesabi Station, a bridge for snowmobiles in Onamia and a new $3 million highway between County Road 565 in Hoyt Lakes and the intersection of Highways 21 and 70 in Babbitt. You know the spot."

From the Taxpayer's League's piglet book, things that were considered higher priority than bridge repair by the state of Minnesota in 2006:

*The state bailout of the Minneapolis Teacher’s Retirement Fund, which puts state taxpayers on the hook for $972 million in unfunded liabilities.
*A new $776 million Twins Stadium to be paid for with a Hennepin County sales tax increase (approved by state legislators with no voter referendum).
*$97.5 million for the Northstar Commuter Rail line.
*$34 million in subsidies to ethanol producers that have seen a *300 percent increase in profits in the last year.
*$30 million for bear exhibits at the Minnesota and Como Zoos.
*$12 million to renovate the Shubert Theater in downtown Minneapolis.
*$1 million for a replica Vikings ship in Moorhead.
*$500,000 for a skating rink in Roseville.
*$310,000 for a Shakespeare festival in Winona.
*$129,000 for state art grants for North Dakota museums and theaters.

According to the Minnesota Department of Transportation website, 147 earmarks went to the state in the 2005 transportation bill in the amount of $449 million.

*$354 million went to road and bridge projects
*$74 million went to public transit
*$48 million went to...trails?
*$19 million went to the University of Minnesota system
*1.9 million went to visitor centers
*$1.5 million went to "joint public works and facility" projects

Specifically (all of these were listed as "high priority" projects in Oberstar's district:

*$900,000 for a portion of the Gitchi-Gami nature trail from Grand Marais (pop. 1,353) to Cascade River (population less than 50).
*$500,000 for a portion of the Gitchi-Gami nature trail in Lutsen (pop 360).
*$1,500,000 for a portion of the Gitchi-Gami nature trail in Silver Bay (pop 2,068).
*$892,000 for a nature trail linking Two Harbors High School with the town of Two Harbors (pop 3,613).
*$2,500,000 for an extension of the Munger nature trail in Duluth (pop 86,918).
*$235,000 for extensions to the Mesabi nature trail in Aurora (pop 2,500).
*$1,500,000 for the Ely Area Joint Public Works Complex in the city of Ely (pop 3,724).
*$2,700,000 for the Mesabi nature trail between Grand Rapids (pop 7,764) and Ely.
*$1,300,000 for a "recreational visitors center" on the Mesabi nature trail in Virginia (pop 9,157).
*$471,000 for the Edge of Wilderness Discovery Center in Marcell (pop less than 50).
*$540,000 for a bike trail along route 11 to (but not in) Voyageurs National Park. Closest town, International Falls (pop 6,703).
*$560,000 for the Paul Bunyan nature trail from Walker (pop 1,069) to Bemidiji (pop 11,917).

Finally, I-35 received funds for 6 projects in the Metro (Minn-St. Paul) MDOT district in the amount of $27.2 million:

*$800,000 for the design of an interchange with Main Street in Lino Lakes
*$2.4 million for the design of an new interchange in Forest Lake
*$5.6 million for the construction of ramps and a new bridge over I-35 in Chisago County
*$7.6 million for Lake Street access to I-35 in Minneapolis
*$5.8 million for I-35 East reconstruction from I-94 to Maryland Avenue in St. Paul
*$5 million for I-35 East reconstruction from University Avenue to Maryland Avenue in St. Paul

More gas taxes for "infastructure" is NOT the answer, considering the incredible, shameless waste of existing dollars.

At 1/16/2008 12:21 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

juandos and alex, thanks for some insight on this. I've read many accounts of the waste of fuel taxes, but didn't have time to dig any up before I had to leave. No doubt, there are learned folks who wish to levy Pigovian taxes upon fuel to exploit drivers for selfish reasons (one of my own MBA profs is one of those people), but the reality is that the funds that current fuel taxes raise are being mis-spent.



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