The recent congressional automotive-loan circus masked a great fault: Many of the panel members, House and Senate, were significant contributors to two major yet avoidable mistakes that created near economic panic and the disruption of the automotive industry.
Well-documented is the systemic economic breakdown based primarily on bad mortgages that were computer-bundled into high-risk, in-house, in-network, buddy-to-buddy, high-commission swaps.
Less well-documented are the odd counterproductive policies of mandating production of fuel-efficient vehicles while guaranteeing cheap gasoline.
At least 15 years ago, a few voices were outlining a solution: slowly raising gasoline taxes (or occasionally reducing them to thwart speculators), thus logically leading, not forcing, consumers and the industry toward fuel efficiency. Obviously, the forcing has not worked well, yet the political system flourishes.
A slow, balanced, many-year policy of trading higher taxes per gallon for more miles per gallon would not have raised the cost per consumer mile and would have reduced emissions substantially.
Imported oil and trade debt would have been curtailed. Alternative energy programs and U.S. battery production would have been spurred, and corporate average fuel economy mandates would have been negated.
The congressional panel members should have been answering questions about failed bank oversight, energy policies and their failure to do the jobs they were elected to do.