I just deleted my draft on President Clinton’s likely transportation policy. We’re not getting a return to 55 like she called for a decade ago. We’re not getting Obama 2.0.
What, then, can drivers expect in the aftermath of the surprise ending of the world’s biggest reality TV event?
Neither Trump nor Pence is eager to regulate carbon dioxide. But Bush wasn’t either. The Supreme Court ordered CO2 emissions limits over his administration’s objections.
When the details of the regulations were written, Obama was in charge.
There lies the great power of the presidency. Writing regulations. The Clean Air Act regulations governing automobile fuel economy, in the guise of carbon emissions limits, are hundreds of pages of formulas written to satisfy lobbyists. They ban cars the EPA doesn’t like. Rather, they ban car manufacturers the EPA doesn’t like. (Imagine if the ban on VW diesels had been a ban on anything with a VW, Audi, or Porsche brand.)
Regulations can’t simply be whisked away like the loser at a beauty contest. Changes require notice and comment and federal judges can block anything they seriously dislike.
Congress could repeal the new regulations by adding one sentence to federal law — “The word pollutant does not include carbon dioxide.” It won’t be that easy, though. Climate change is part of Democrats’ religion. They still have the votes to filibuster.
Unfortunately, complex regulations are another religion of Congress. Otherwise there would be a solution to make almost everybody better off. Like I wrote before, you can be afraid of anthropogenic global warming and not support using ad hoc rules to combat tiny pieces of emissions. A simple tax, no more painful than the gas tax, would do the job better. Without an explicit tax, CAFE regulations do the job better because they indirectly raise the cost of burning gas.
Something to watch. And maybe write Congress about.
How about while you’re driving your ecomobile or guzzler? Are you safe from police?
Trump and Pence are law and order types. Will they back pretext stops as a way to find illegal immigrants and Muslims? My guess is they will. Will they reform civil asset forfeiture (basically highway robbery in the name of the war on drugs)? My guess is they won’t.
Are you safe from traffic jams?
Both major party candidates promised to spend a lot of money on infrastructure. That might be just campaign rhetoric. If not, Congress does not feel obliged to give Trump what he wants. If Congress does open up the checkbook, the effects on driving are unclear. We could end up with nothing but more taxes.
I predict there will be an infrastructure spending bill. We need to watch it carefully. It will be piled high with handouts to interest groups, and drivers are not going to be among them unless they speak up.
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