Issues & Insights

Gavin Newsom: If You Like Your Car, You Can Keep Your Car

When Barack Obama told the country that under Obamacare “if you like your healthcare plan, you can keep it,” he was dinged for telling the PolitiFact Lie of the Year.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom made a similar promise when he signed last week an executive order that will outlaw the sale of new gasoline- and diesel-powered cars by 2035.

“You can still keep your internal-combustion engine car,” he said. “You can still have a market for used cars. You can still trade and transfer those cars – we’re not taking anything away.”

Obama knew better, or at least he should have, than to make his promise about health care plans. But Newsom is likely telling the truth, as far as he knows. Outside of an override by the Legislature on possible future legislation that would contradict him, he has the authority to keep his promise as long as he’s governor.

But he has no control of what happens after he leaves office. A governor years from now could issue an executive order that prohibits automobiles that use gasoline and diesel fuel from using California roads. A Legislature might pass a law that allows only electric vehicles on the roads and another governor would sign it.

Yet even under the Newsom promise, gasoline and diesel cars and trucks could be driven to extinction. Will the owners of these fossil-fuel classics be able to easily find gasoline and diesel due to a regulatory framework that limits the sale of fossil fuels? Will conventional cars and trucks be subject to a sin tax that will result in them collecting dust in garages, being crushed at a junkyard, or ending up as relics on exhibit? Will policymakers virtually drive them out of existence through exorbitant registration fees charged simply for ownership?

It’s easy to imagine that California becomes the new Cuba, the vintage car capital of the world, where roughly 60,000 American cars from the pre-revolution era rumble through the streets because Fidel Castro banned importation of U.S. automobiles and parts, and the Cubans have had little choice but to keep the retro automobiles on the road any way they can. The country is “essentially a living museum for classic cars,” says Anywhere, a travel-services website.

If you’re a classic car buff, Cuba is just about the greatest place on the planet. It’s like one big car show, where autos from the 1940s and 1950s motor along the streets and highways. There are Chevrolets, Fords, Pontiacs, Buicks, Dodges, Plymouths, and Studebakers. The cars run the gamut from mint condition to downright dilapidated. Well-preserved cars have exteriors that shine with chrome and new paint jobs, while the worse-off autos are held together with odd parts and scrap metal.

Unlike Cubans limited by trade restrictions, Californians can cross state lines to buy the parts they need to keep their automobiles operating or have them shipped. California vintage car owners might eventually create a cottage industry of exporting their carbon-based machines to other states the way Cubans are now able to export the pre-revolution cars they’ve been holding together for more than a half-century.

Unless the rest of the country joins California’s war on conventional cars, an outcome Newsom and most of Sacramento clearly have in mind. Just as the Obama administration set out to fundamentally alter health care in this country, whether Americans wanted the change or not, California wants to restrict our car-buying choices, even if doing so goes against the wishes of most of the nation.

The rush to electric vehicles is just the beginning, though. The ultimate goal is to move as many Californians – and Americans – as possible out of their cars and into public transportation. The agenda fits smoothly into the larger political effort to dissolve the individual into the collective. Exactly what Castro did in Cuba.

Kerry Jackson is a fellow with the Center for California Reform at the Pacific Research Institute. This appeared in PRI’s Right By The Bay blog.

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  • Governor Newsom may have forgotten that whatever type of vehicles use the roads, there are huge funding requirements for both California’s transportation infrastructure, and for the environmental compliance programs that have come from the gas pumps. California has almost 400,000 miles of roadways that are heavily dependent on road taxes from fuel that contribute more than $7 billion annually, the same tax base that will be diminishing in the decades ahead.

    So, in addition to buying new vehicles, owners may think they’re saving money by not buying fuel, but lookout – here comes that VMT (Vehicle Mileage Tax) program for vehicle miles traveled on highways for the state to get back the revenue they are losing at the gas pumps.

    The VMT sound like a logical idea – require the users of the highways to pay the fee to maintain those highways. The challenge will be how to implement that great idea which may require odometer annual readings! Lookout for Governor Newsom next Executive Order for a VMT requiring annual odometer readings so that each person pays their fair share to maintains our roads!

  • Sure, but then the state will tax them out of existence except for the wealthy elite. $1,000 per year license fee for example. Sacramento will do the math and drool.

  • So as I understand it a governor of a state now has Imperial powers and can legislate from the mansion. Why do we pay for a legislature or any of the staff to represent the citizen. I worked for centuries with the Monarchs. Why on earth would we want to rebel against this? Let our betters rule and we will accept whatever rules they deem necessary.

  • Until they ban gas stations, which I’m sure will be the next step. If you like your car, you can keep it…in the garage.

  • A million EV cars will take 3 1,000mw coal/nuclear plants to charge overnight. There are 15+ million cars in Calif. Tell me how this will work out.

  • Three words: Cash For Clunkers.

    When all you can afford to drive is a $1000 – 3000 car, where does Newsom’s latest vanity project leave the growing underclass in the state? Just like CFC did a few decades ago, the Pelosis and Newsoms will pat themselves on the back for “saving the planet” as they ask their servants to march down to the local Tesla dealership to acquire a new Federally-subsidized $60,000 electric vehicle. All the while, Joe Schmoe, who’s working two jobs to afford his one-bedroom condo in Oakland breaks out in a cold sweat when his 15-year-old Accord develops a new clunking noise.

    Not to worry, democrats. Soon, Elon Musk and Bill Gates will begin building Elysium — your techno paradise orbiting the planet, on which you can gaze down in affluent comfort at the little people you left behind on the disintegrating planet you ruined.

  • Newsom is a total Moron him and his ideas show him to be totaly out of his mind WE have had many Cars 1947 Nash ,A 1952 Buick,a 1950′ Era Vaxhaul a 1958 Pontiac Station Wagon two late 1940’s or Early 50’s Chevy Pick-Ups Etc

  • It’s just one more thoughtless climate change virtue signal.
    And it’s also almost certainly another deadline that will come and go just like High Speed rail, hydrogen powered vehicles, etc., etc.
    For example:
    “In 1990, the state of California initiated the Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) program. The so-called “ZEV mandate” represented a unique policy approach to reducing emissions from vehicles, because it required the sale of vehicles with entirely different technologies than the gasoline vehicles currently on the road.”
    “The first phase, beginning in 1990 and running through 2003, was marked by highly optimistic goals set by the California Air Resources Board (CARB), the agency with the authority to set the stringency of the mandate: 10 percent of new car sales in the state were to be electric by 2001.”
    Here we are , almost 20 (yes, twenty years) yrs later and less than 8% of new vehicles sold in California are electric. True, it’s closer to 14% if you include hybrids.

    Of course, no one is discussing the additional demand on electricity production, which is already experiencing brownouts, nor the load on the electricity grid. Nor has anyone explained how poor people in government housing are going to charge their new cars! It is plain idiocy.

    But personally I hope they do it. The faster California’s political leadership proves that its initiatives are a mistake, the quicker the other states will avoid the same idiocy.

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