The Daily Sandwich

"We have to learn the lesson that intellectual honesty is fundamental for everything we cherish." -Sir Karl Popper

Location: Boston, Massachusetts, United States


Friday, March 31, 2006

The Republican Party v States' Rights: Act IV

Here's a shocker for you. Two months after the State of the Union address in which Bush boldly announced that the US is "addicted to oil," we're seeing an unprecedented Republican effort to wean the nation from the teat of Middle Eastern crude. The bold new initiative? A 5% improvement in fuel economy to go into effect in a couple of years. Whoopee! We're saved!

Some states have decided that's not really sufficient to address high fuel costs, pollution, or the brass ring of energy independence. As such, they've enacted their own more stringent standards for vehicle efficiency.

The Republican party, however, has decided once again that "big government" knows best and moved to block states from passing their own laws on the matter.

Most of the attention on the Bush Administration's proposed fuel economy standards for SUVs and light trucks has focused on the fact that they would do very little to reduce gas mileage and save consumers money at the gas pump.

Unfortunately, the proposal also included preamble language attempting to block states from implementing greenhouse gas reductions for cars and light trucks, claiming that such reductions would be equivalent to illegal backdoor CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) improvements.

According to law, only the federal government can implement a fuel economy standard for vehicles in the United States. However, states have the authority under the Clean Air Act to adopt California pollution standards that are more stringent than the federal government. California has already passed a bill and approved regulations cutting greenhouse gas emissions from new vehicles by 22% by model year 2012 and 30% by model year 2016.

So in this year alone, the GOP has acted to overrule states' abilities to A) demand accuracy in food labeling, B) protect consumers from usurious lenders, C) require minimum healthcare standards from insurance providers, and D) reduce the production of greenhouse gasses. (There was also the January effort by right-wing justices Roberts, Thomas and Scalia to put Oregon's physician-assisted suicide law under federal control, but no dice. So far.)

In spite of all this, part of me feels bad every time I use the term neo-fascist to describe the 21st-century reign of the GOP. Maybe we liberals really are too nice for our own good. They're fascists, after all.