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March 9, 2012

How the Chevy Volt Is Like ObamaCare

Forbes Right Directions by Merrill Matthews
  PDF  |  Forbes

March is an important month in the ongoing saga of President Obama's abject policy failures. First, Chevrolet announced that it would temporarily cease production of the president's much-touted car for the green economy, the Chevy Volt. Second, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear the state-led challenge to the president's health care legislation. And while "ObamaCar" and ObamaCare may seem like unrelated topics, in this case they have at least three elements in common.

Both were sold as a key to creating jobs and economic growth. Only last year the president predicted that there would be 1 million electric cars on U.S. roads by 2015-just three years away. And New York Senator Chuck Schumer doubled down on that economic vision: "We need a business model based on cars of the future, and we already know what that future is: the plug-in hybrid electric car."

Similarly, Obama defended his takeover of the health care system by proclaiming, "We must lay a new foundation for future growth and prosperity, and a key pillar of a new foundation is health insurance reform." Speaker Nancy Pelosi saw health reform as a jobs factory: "In its life [health care reform] will create 4 million jobs, 400,000 jobs almost immediately."

Well, that economic wave of the future can wave goodbye. Green energy isn't creating jobs and boosting the economy. Indeed, many green energy companies are cutting back, laying off or closing down-even with billions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies.

Meanwhile, oil and gas production-the left's biggest nightmare-is resurgent, and the U.S. is once again becoming a global leader in energy production. Several state economies are booming because of the energy explosion, with low unemployment and high wages-everything the president promised from the green economy, but has failed to deliver.

However, left unrepealed the health care law probably will create jobs-government jobs! Thousands of new government employees will be added to the federal payroll to manage the millions of people put in the government-run Medicaid program, and IRS agents to ensure Americans are buying ObamaCare, or slap them with a penalty if they don't.

The government has heavily subsidized both. Neither Obama's green energy or universal health care visions would work without pumping in billions of taxpayer dollars-and they probably won't work even with the subsidies.

The administration has created an $80 billion clean-energy investment program to subsidize green companies-$5 billion just for electric cars-many of which, as the Washington Post recently reported, also happen to be big Obama donors. And did I mention bonuses? ABC News reports that Beacon Power Corp. of Massachusetts "paid cash bonuses of $259,285 to three executives in part due to progress made on the $43 million energy loan ... Last October, Beacon Power filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy."

Hmmm, so our taxes paid big bonuses based in part on executives' success in siphoning off our taxes from the Obama administration.

But green energy subsidies are chump change when it comes to the federal dollars Obama will pour down the health care drain. Official figures calculated a cost of about $1 trillion over 10 years, both from new taxes and robbing from Medicare. But if you can find a federal official who tells the truth, such as Medicare Chief Actuary Richard Foster, you'll discover that Democrats way underestimated the costs.

 

And sure enough, just last week, House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) sent the administration a letter demanding to know why it wants a $111 billion increase in spending for health insurance exchange subsidies-and the exchanges aren't even subsidizing yet. That's only one of what will be repeated administration requests for additional funding.

Most people don't want either. On a recent campaign trip to GM, Obama boasted that he planned to buy a Chevy Volt-in five years (i.e., after his second term). He may be the only one. Volt sales have been dismal: only selling 676 in January and 1,073 in February. So Chevrolet has temporarily stopped production and laid off 1,300 workers.

But ObamaCare turns out to be even more unpopular than the ObamaCar. Weekly Rasmussen polls have consistently found that somewhere between 51 and 57 percent of the public want ObamaCare repealed-and a Gallup poll found that 72 percent believe the coverage mandate is unconstitutional.

That is a remarkably sustained, and probably unprecedented, level of public dissatisfaction with new legislation. And then there's the unprecedented level of state dissatisfaction. When 26 states go to the trouble and expense of dragging an administration to the Supreme Court, you know the country is angry.

So two of the president's key economic visions have miserably failed to achieve their goal of spurring the economy-and Obama's reelection chances. And for largely the same reasons: they are top-down attempts to micromanage the economy and force Americans to embrace Obama's vision of the "fair share" society.

The president thought by now he would be basking in the gratitude of a prosperous electorate. Instead he is struggling to try and convince the public that all of his big-government programs were necessary and will work-eventually, if only voters will give him another chance.


 

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