The Dems’ Detroit Dilemma: To Cave or Not to Cave on Emissions?
As Congress and the White House wrangle over the conditions of a possible Detroit bailout, many Democrats want the conditional guarantee that, in return for the cash, the Big Three will drop lawsuits against California and more than a dozen other states that want to tighten tailpipe emission standards — a provision opposed by the Bush administration, which calls it a deal-breaker. (It is, after all, the White House-run EPA that’s blocked California’s efforts by denying its emission waiver.)
On the one hand, the conflict is an interesting show of how well Democrats can stand up to a wildly unpopular president in the waning days of his teunure. They’ve already caved once in this debate, having gone back on vows not to fund the bailout from $25 billion previously allotted to revamp the automakers’ factories for the production of more fuel-efficient cars.
On the other hand, it might not matter at all. Even if the lawsuits are allowed to continue, President-elect Barack Obama is expected to grant California’s waiver as one of the early actions from the White House. If he does, it could make the current debate seem a bit futile.