There was a terrific announcement in Washington last week, one that brought people together for a worthy cause that will benefit all of us, the economy and our environment in the long run.
I know what you are thinking. I am now doing stand up comedy or writing for The Onion. How else can one explain something actually being done the right way in Washington when Congress has largely become a theatre of the absurd? Things are so bad right now that if a moderate (if there are any left) proposed a bill in support of Mother’s Day it wouldn’t pass until a number of ludicrous amendments were attached and the Senate could come up with enough votes to cut off the filibuster.
So how did this good thing get done? Congress was not involved. In fact they were not paying much attention, along with most of the media.
So, what happened? President Obama and the Chief executives of Detroit’s big three automakers have reached agreement on the largest increase in mileage per gallon requirements ever: 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025, which is double the current level.
This is not only a seismic shift in numbers but also a seismic shift in attitude that has developed between car makers and government. It was only a few years ago that both U.S and Asian car makers would argue against even minimal miles per gallon rules.
There are many reasons behind this extraordinary change in the Detroit/Washington relationship that has often been contentious in the past. One of course is the bailout that probably saved two of the Big Three and then trickled down to the suppliers, of which there are many in Indiana and Michigan. It also has to do with a little common sense on the part of the car makers and millions of Americans. Gas prices are not going down, there is not an unlimited supply of oil and we are screwing up the environment.
Detroit’s Big Three want to stay viable, and we will still need to drive cars because Congress will never come up with another forward-looking way to get us from point A to point B.
There is a long way to go before all of this is in place, but the current cooperation between the administration and Detroit is reason to believe we really can get good things done, as long as Congress stays out of it.
Right now they could screw up a one car funeral procession.