Talk about inequality!

Buying a Tesla? You’re probably pretty well off.


2016 Tesla Model S

After all, the 2016 Tesla Model S 70 has a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of $71,200. For the high-horsepower Model S P85D, you’ll shell out $106,200. Check off all the options boxes and you’ll be looking at more than $131,000.

Or how about other electric car options, such as a 2016 BMW i8 for $141,695, a 2016 Cadillac ELR for $64,995, a 2016 Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid for $94,250 or a 2016 Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid for $78,250.

If you want to go downscale, there’s also the 2016 Nissan Leaf at $29,860, the 2016 Chevrolet Volt  at $33,995 or the 2016 Volkswagen e-Golf at $29,815.

Whatever the price, the rest of us will be helping you out with a federal tax credit of up to $7500. Maybe that would make some sense if the credit was helping a broad swath of the population. But it’s not.

Even though some electric vehicles on the market are relatively low-priced, it’s the affluent who are buying them. Well-off people who have incomes in the top 20% of all taxpayers are claiming 90 percent of federal electric vehicle (EV) tax credits, according to a recent study out of the Energy Institute at Haas, at the University of California, Berkeley.

The impact of the tax credit on the federal budget is the same as it would have been with a direct subsidy because the federal government ends up with less revenue.

Maintaining such tax credits for the affluent is insane public policy.

At a time of rising national debt, and struggling efforts to meet the country’s essential needs, subsidizing the well-off to encourage them to buy electric vehicles makes no sense and exacerbates inequality.

Perhaps  Oregon State Representative Phil Barnhart, D-Eugene, Chair of the House Revenue Committee, could be the Oregon leader of an effort to repeal of the federal electric vehicle tax credit and state-level electric vehicle tax breaks. After all, Barnhart, who is always railing about the need to close tax loopholes that favor big business and the rich and to adjust our tax system to increase fairness, owns a Tesla.






Subsidizing electric cars in Oregon: a shockingly bad idea

Batteries don’t charge up electric cars; government subsidies do. At least that’s what supporters of a bill now before the Oregon House seem to believe.

The bill, H.B. 2092, would establish an Incentive Fund to make rebates of up to $3000 to purchasers of alternative fuel vehicles, including those that are powered by batteries or hydrogen fuel and gasoline-electric vehicles. Rebates from the fund could total as much as $30 million per biennium and would be on top of the already absurd federal subsidy of up to $7500.

Just what we need, a $30 million government subsidy to purchasers of pricey cars, when Oregon is already one of the top states for EV market share and the state has many other more pressing concerns to address.

The House Energy and Environment Committee held a public heating on the bill on April 2 and has a work session on the bill scheduled for today, April 16.

Under the bill, state rebates would help affluent Oregonians buy vehicles such as the $43,000 BMW i3 and $135,000 i8, the $42,000 Mercedes B-Class, the $106,000 Tesla Model S P85D, and the $35,000 Chevy Volt.

The purchaser of a $135,000 BMW i8 would be eligible for a $3,000 rebate from the state under H.R. 2092

The purchaser of a $135,000 BMW i8 would be eligible for a $3,000 rebate from the state under H.R. 2092

To put things in perspective, $30 million is more than the TOTAL state income tax liability of all personal filers in 16 Oregon counties in 2013: Baker County ($13.1 million), Crook ($18.2 million), Curry ($19.6 million), Gilliam ($12.1 million), Grant ($5.9 million), Harney ($5.1 million), Jefferson ($15.5 million), Lake ($6.2 million), Malheur ($17.6 million), Morrow ($11.1 million), Sherman ($2.6 million), Tillamook ($23.6 million), Union ($24.7 million), Wallowa ($6.1 million), Wasco ($23.6 million) and Wheeler ($1.3 million).

If I lived in one of those counties I wouldn’t look kindly on all my personal state income tax payments going to this alternative fuel vehicle boondoggle.

Let’s be honest here, folks. There are a lot of other places $30 million could be invested more wisely in Oregon.

Seven Oregon counties have been losing population, Coos, Baker, Wallowa, Malheur, Grant, Wheeler, and Sherman.

If the Legislature can find another $30 million to spend, why not use the $30 million to help these struggling counties attract businesses?

Deserving young people around the state are dealing with the stresses and strains of trying to find the money to pay for post-secondary education.

Why not put the $30 million in Oregon Opportunity Grants, the state’s need based financial aid program.

The state invests in Employment Related Day Care in support of the Early Learning initiative, providing greater access to quality childcare for Oregon’s working families.

How about adding $30 million to the budget for that?

A potential decline in lottery revenues during the 2015-17 biennium is likely to present budget issues for the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board, Department of Agriculture, Department of Environmental Quality, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the Oregon State Police Division of Fish and Wildlife. In addition, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife is facing a significant budget shortfall.

The legislature could help out the Natural Resource Program area by adding $30 million to its budget.

The logical decision? Short-circuit this bill.