Credit for electric cars is unusually well crafted

It isn’t true that the new subsidies for buying electric vehicles will only benefit the rich. Even if it were, I wouldn’t care.

That’s because the point of the $7,500 tax credit is to speed the transition to clean energy. It’s not to further enrich those who could afford these technologically cool cars. It’s not to help American automakers sell more of them, though if that’s a result, then nice. The point is to stop the planet from burning up.

Many on the right like to avert their gaze from the bigger picture. On FoxNews.com, David Marcus calls the credit “a lavish EV subsidy.” He says that handing potential buyers a $7,500 credit is “like giving everyone a thousand dollar gift card to the Rolex store, great, but where do we get the other 9 grand?”

Well, either you get the other 9 grand, or you don’t get the Rolex. Life is unfair.

It would appear that the writer issued his complaints before there was a finished piece of legislation to complain about. The Inflation Reduction Act denies the credit to those with taxable income above $150,000 as a single filer ($300,000 as joint filers). In other words, the really rich don’t get it.

There’s also some grumbling on the left that not everyone is handed a shiny new EV. Tamara Sheldon declares in Knowable Magazine that she’d love to buy an EV but the cheapest ones are at least three times as expensive as her used VW Jetta. We’re not told how used that Jetta is, but you’re still going to need some money to buy a new electric car, OK?

The critics would do their arguments a favor if they stopped portraying the $60,000 Cadillac Lyriq or Model Y Tesla as typical EVs. Car and Driver helpfully lists more affordable models. The Chevrolet Bolt EV, for example, starts at $32,495.

There may be a higher upfront cost to buying an electric vehicle, but the savings on gasoline can make the EV a lot less expensive over time. For example, driving 15,000 miles in a fossil-fuel-powered Ford F-150 pickup would cost the owner $2,900 at the current price of gas. The same 15,000 miles in the electric Ford F-150 Lightning Pro would come to $950. Obviously, the more you drive it, the better the deal.

It seems important for the hecklers to exaggerate the environmental concerns attached to EVs. Marcus at Fox notes that you often need fossil fuels to make the electricity that goes into the battery. As he puts it, “The electricity that runs these futuristic vehicles doesn’t just flow freely from the sky.”

Actually, a lot of it does. To the Bible literate, wind and sun are like manna from heaven. They are free and provide something we are hungry for, clean power. Renewable energy, including hydro, already generates about 21% of all our electricity. The U.S. Energy Information Administration projects this number will rise to 44% by 2050, and that might be low. With work, renewables could produce 90% of the world’s electricity by 2050, according to the International Energy Agency.

One other nice thing about electric vehicles: Zero tailpipe emissions. We refer to the noxious chemicals that burning fossil fuels belches forth. In other words, old-fashioned smog.

If bashing Democrats is the true motive behind all this whining about the EV tax credit, too bad. Now and then, the political players should do things that are good for the country, even if it means agreeing with the other side.

As policy initiatives go, this incentive to move Americans into electric vehicles is unusually well crafted. Good work.

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at fharrop@gmail.com.


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