Allow me to imagine myself as one of President Obama’s speechwriters for just a few minutes. Given that, in the next few days, President Obama must announce the following five points concerning America’s remaining domestic auto industry in Detroit:
• “During World War II, the United States created the Manhattan Project, a cost-be-damned effort to develop the atomic bomb, and we were successful. In May, 1961, President John F. Kennedy declared, ‘I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth.’ We did it in July, 1969, and two men landed on the moon, not just one. Based on these successes, this country must now commit itself to, before 2020, creating the world’s first national infrastructure for hydrogen and natural gas fuels, and we determine to build the cars and trucks which will run on those fuels by using fuel cells — made efficient by JFK’s space program — to turn hydrogen and natural gas into electricity. This will be a huge positive answer for global warming.
• “To help pay the enormous expense for this first of its kind transformation, from an economy which for over 100 years has depended on oil, we will immediately, by Executive Order, increase and greatly expand the tax rebates and other incentives for Americans to buy the highest mileage, cleanest cars and trucks now available. This will save all of us money, but will also pour money into Detroit as the kinds of cars we need now are developed and sold. And as the economy improves, we will then phase-in a $4-per-gallon federal gas tax, with those monies used only for this massive, critical and earth-saving energy and transportation revolution.
• “As is done in every other industrialized nation, our federal government will help and support American carmakers in any and every way possible. That’s not protectionism; that’s just smart and makes common sense. And Detroit automakers will also be closely involved in the development of the most modern types of high-speed rail lines to criss-cross the nation, and of efficient light rail systems for our towns and cities.
• “This week, I will sign an Executive Order which will hasten the most-recent government fuel mileage requirements. The latest rules require the Corporate Average Fuel Economy of the nation’s new car and light truck fleet to begin increasing from present levels with the 2011 model year and to reach 35 mpg by the 2020 model year. I believe we can accomplish this in half that time, by model year 2015. Encouraging American carmakers to develop these high-mileage cars and trucks will get them and this country well on our way towards the coming hydrogen/natural gas economy.
• “In this 21st century, three separate carmakers in Detroit striving to reach the same important goals is a massive waste of money, time and effort. The struggling financial markets have seen many mergers in recent months, for those requiring help from the government and other companies in order to remain viable. Therefore, our government will be asking General Motors, Ford and Chrysler to merge into one great American-based carmaker and technology group. This will be the best way to guarantee a future for General Motors and Chrysler, especially, and Ford, as the world will beat a path to Detroit to license Detroit’s newly-developed transportation technologies. This is the best use of taxpayer money to achieve the efficiencies of scale necessary to create the hydrogen and natural gas economy and its vehicles. We ask that only the U.S. divisions of these companies merge; their overseas divisions can remain separate; after a pre-determined time, Detroit might again be ready to be home to three major carmaking companies.”
Did I miss anything? Disagreements? Praise? If so, visit my web site, www.SteveParker.com, and let me know.
Steve Parker has covered the world’s auto industry for over 35 years. He’s a two-time Emmy Award-winner who reported on cars for almost a decade at both KTLA/TV5 and KCBS/TV2. He is a consultant to the NBC-TV show Whipnotic and the show’s companion website, www.Whipnotic.com. He created, writes and moderates the only all-automotive blog on The Huffington Post at www.huffingtonpost.com/steve-parker.