Ed Markey slams GOP: “You know who ruined the auto industry? You did!”

Republicans have long opposed stronger fuel economy standards that might have put the US auto industry in a better position to weather international competition.

Yesterday Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) gave a short but powerful speech during the debate on the Upton-Inhofe bill to block climate pollution rules explaining the consequence of Republican obstructionism:

h/t TP

21 Responses to Ed Markey slams GOP: “You know who ruined the auto industry? You did!”

  1. Ben says:

    How exactly did the GOP refusal to mandate higher efficiency standards result in the destruction of the auto industry? Its not like the GOP forbid them from doing it on their own

    Not a GOP fan, but I’m not following this.

    [JR: The auto industry was never going to do this on their own. That’s clear from the last four decades. Heck the auto industry fought safety bags and airbags — now safety features are a major selling point for new cars.]

  2. Kasra says:

    On Joe’s comment above, I’ve always wondered if this is just an inherent trait of private sector competition, or if it’s something just an American knack for short-sightedness. The auto industry saw safety belts and airbags as a sizable knick in their short-term bottom line, and so fought against it, same as with better fuel standards, even though by investing they could improve their long-term prospects.

    Did Japanese and European automakers need government incentives to invest in better fuel standards? Or was it just the lack of government-subsidized gasoline that increased demand for fuel efficiency?

  3. Mike Roddy says:

    I really like Markey, since he’s one of the few Congressmen who just goes ahead and says what’s going on.

  4. kermit says:

    Kasra – in my last job, in an analytical lab, we had a temporary CEO come in for a few months. He stopped buying supplies (filter paper, in a lab!) and didn’t pay for proper disposal of waste – we just let it pile up in a storage area. The bottom line improved, of course, for that quarter, and he then moved on to his next wonder project. The new, permanent CEO then had to deal with these issues, and they were then more expensive than they would have been a few months earlier. I’m sure the major stockholders remembered who improved the short term profits and who did not.

    Disposing of hazardous lab waste is expensive, but if the government doesn’t require standards, any analytical lab that wants to do it correctly could not compete against their rivals; they wouldn’t be able to keep their costs low enough. It could be that certain desirable but expensive features aren’t obviously worthwhile even in the long run for many industries, until after the fact.

  5. Dana says:

    Markey is awesome. Though to be fair, Ben in comment #1 has a point that the auto industry also killed itself by not voluntarily increasing fuel efficiency. It’s probably fairer to say that the GOP let the auto industry commit suicide.

  6. Theron says:

    There is plenty of blame to go around on this one, and American consumers are as guilty as the GOP and auto companies. We wanted larger, more powerful vehicles and when the original CAFO standards kicked in many of us switched to trucks, which were exempt. I imnclude myself, as I drove a SUV for many years even though I knew that it was unsustainable. The auto companies built what consumers demanded. Cerservatives would say it is not government’s role to protect us from ourselves but there are plenty of areas where that is exactly what is needed (seatbelts, pollution prevention, predatory lending, etc.) and this is one of them.

  7. Jim says:

    I never expect too much intelligence from politicians, but this is just plain old dumb, and unsubstantiated in any way. Correlation is not causality.

    and hate to burst your bubbles, but the auto company’s initiated seat belts and automatic brake systems and air bags, as a way to woo consumers.

    fuel efficiency standards are retarded. if a car company is good at making big fuel-inefficient cars, let them. if the market demands fuel efficient cars, those specializing in big cars will be in trouble, if we let them go out of business for their mistake (clearly we lack the will power on that issue in this administration). Forcing a company that is good at producing big cars, to also produce small cars, is like forcing a good patent lawyer to also practice environmental law. Makes no sense. Hurts the laywers, hurts the consumer. We may feel good that we’re forcing lawyers to help the environment, as long as we don’t look at the results.

    Keep insisting on fuel standards and you will continue to hurt certain car companies, like GM and Ford.

  8. ToddInNorway says:

    Oil wars are financed by the American taxpayer and realized with the blood and health of its servicemen and servicewomen. Damn straight the federal government should be regulating the car industry! If they had been better at doing this 20 years ago, we would be thumbing our noses at the rogue states bankrolling terrorists, and saving a ton of resources by avoiding interventions in yet another mid-east wasps nest.

  9. Corporations have no conscience. Regulations prevent them from having their sociopathic way with us.

  10. Joan Savage says:

    Is this indication of any historic stresses between Big Oil and the US automobile industry? Lax fuel standards worked in favor of the oil industry. Naively we’d think they are a united front, as perhaps they once were, but maybe not.

  11. t_p_hamilton says:

    “and hate to burst your bubbles, but the auto company’s initiated seat belts and automatic brake systems and air bags, as a way to woo consumers.”

    Makes you wonder why regulations to make air bags (Joe’s example) mandatory were needed, then. You know, just like those CAFE standards are unnecessary, because… what was that again?

  12. Ziyu says:

    Jim, the difference is that GM, Ford, and those other companies actually have the ability to make fuel efficient cars. They just haven’t been trying. Then there’s the flaw with your supply and demand argument. The car companies produce lots of big cars and advertise for big cars, which makes consumers buy them. Then car companies can use that as an excuse to say the market wants big cars and repeat the cyclical and self-destructive process. The big 3 knew they were losing to Japanese and Korean car companies but they just ignored it. Then their shortsightedness caused bankruptcy and the taxpayers had to bail them out to save the workers. Now they are waking up to realize that consumers DO want fuel efficient vehicles, as evidenced by the growth of foreign companies. The reason standards are necessary is to ensure that the auto industry doesn’t ignore the signs again and think about short term profits over long term stability. It keeps jobs here in the US instead of Japan and South Korea.

  13. andreas says:

    Re #1,2

    I think Markey is right in some way.

    It’s not true, that the US auto industry don’t have the technology of low fuel consuming cars. Two years ago I bougth in Germany a Ford Fiesta econetic, built in Cologne, which consumes 4 liters per 100 km (sorry for the metric system ;-). Ford could have produced the same car for the US market (ok, they are trying now, I know), but there’s always the same problem: Why should Americans buy a car, which only advantage is low fuel consumption, if fuel costs are so low (here in Germany now about 2,20$ per liter).

    The problem for the US auto industry goes deeper: Thanks to cheap fuels they earned splendid in former times in the US market, but they lost the connection to the world market, a world market with high fuel prices.

  14. Leif says:

    You folks that say US manufacturers, (I include fossil fuel here) only built what the consumer wanted. What a crock. If that were so just why has the industry spent if not billions of dollars at least hundreds of millions of dollars in advertising and lobbing to convince the public to buy gas hogs? That kind of money would have been enough for a good start on a Nation Wide renewable energy system.

  15. Treehugger1955 says:

    “How exactly did the GOP refusal to mandate higher efficiency standards result in the destruction of the auto industry? Its not like the GOP forbid them from doing it on their own”

    Answer: If the government does not force them to improve the mileage standards of the US fleet then the auto industry will do what is in their best interest which was produce high-end, high-mpg vehicles which were susceptible to becoming non-sellers when the price of fuel went up and that all happened. The Japanese knew better. Now we are competitive with Japanese cars in quality and gas economy. It is all obvious to me.

    hooray for Markey!

  16. dhogaza says:

    Too bad that history has proven Jim’s claims to be false.

    that’s probably why he resorts to revisionism regarding seat belts.

  17. Turboblocke says:

    Jim @ 7 displays a parochial mindset. There is more to the world than just the US market. It’s very rare to see gasguzzlers in Europe.

  18. accidentalfission says:

    In 1981, Reagan gave a big middle finger to the planet by ripping the solar panels of the White House and turning up the thermostats. In 1986, Republicans got their way and CAFE standards went bye bye.

    Most of us posting here know that. What I didn’t know was that Vermont was the last state to maintain the fuel-saving and life-saving 55 MPH speed limits but was forced to raise them by the threat of withholding federal highway dollars.

    Do you know how efficient cars and trucks could be if build to operate at lower speeds? Yeah, yeah I know, real men have 500HP and do 0-60 in 4 seconds. That’s not gonna last.

  19. Steve Metzler says:

    Wow, Jim. Way to exemplify the exact mindset that got us into this mess. Unless you’re a Poe… no, probably just another drive-by troll.

  20. Virveli says:

    Behold the statistics on failures to inspect certain makes of three-year old Finnish cars (1st required inspection) in 2010, scores 95-99 out of 99.


    The best car under a U.S. brand was Chevrolet Kalos at 46 (8,27%).


  21. Rick Covert says:


    If your case is correct and the big 3 would make fuel efficient cars on their own then the cars would already be here since their European Divisions Ford in Europe, GM’s former Opel division for example already make cars that get over 40 mpg but they are not made in the US. Now why is that? It’s because in Europe where they are far more reliant on foreign oil, particularly from Russia, they have enacted tougher fuel economy standards. The same can not be said for the United States. Now witness the result. They were loosing money in the billions from about 2004 onwards because they saddled themselves with big cars like the Hummer they could sell anymore and it only took one oil spike back in 2008 to crash 2 of the big 3.