by Paul Goldman
While the Rasmussen site often front runs GOP attack lines against Democrats, this doesn’t mean the data developed can be dismissed as purely partisan hype. Thus I recommend to you and to Terry MAC the latest polling information from Rasmussen, which suggests a 2013 GOP attack line on the electric car industry. It will not be directly at Terry’s MyCar, which GreenTech Automotive hopes to have driving ahead of you on the road of the future.
The poll says Americans overwhelmingly reject the subsidies the industry wants Congress to pass to encourage purchases of the type electric car Terry is building. I don’t know if Terry is lobbying for these subsidies or not, but one suspects he isn’t against them now or in the past. Indeed, the President is their biggest supporter. Moreover, this type of help, or the similar thing done indirectly, is historic, goes back to the founding of the country, once debated as the Tariff issue, now differently, all generally to the same general effect.
My 2013 point being: If the VA GOP can creditably claim the industry is only being made profitable by federal subsidies- again, admittedly a traditional practice and one both parties have supported over the years for many industries in different forms, many hidden from the public – or perhaps more to the point politically, if the public perception is subsidies are the reason such ventures don’t go out of business, then what is going to be their view of such experience on the candidate resume?
Let’s understand: Politics is about perception. We put Mark Warner on TV in a setting with a company behind him even though he didn’t run one, he just invested in it. But the business image stuck as intended. Nothing wrong with that, as no one said anything untrue.
Perhaps the GOP should have said something. They didn’t. The guys running the campaigns of “Have Brief, Will Travel” or “Bolling Alone” are not going to make the same mistake.
Now comes the next Democratic businessman to run. On a platform glued together by claims of experience in creating jobs.
Just look at the way Mitt Romney’s business background is undergoing dissection from all different angles, many still in the golf bag, the club sitting there just waiting for him to be nominated.
So shoot the messenger if you want, that didn’t stop the pony express. Fairly or unfairly, subsidies to the electric car industry are going to be front and center if Terry runs for Governor next year, as will every other tax break the industry got to be here in Virginia. Like it or not, General Assembly Democrats made that inevitable when they attacked the Amazon deal struck by Governor McDonnell.
The issue is not Terry’s business acumen, quite impressive as we know. But rather the issue is this: Most business people in Virginia, especially those the GOP will put in TV ADS, don’t get electric car like subsidies.
I recognize that Virginia Democrats have no problem with the far larger federal subsidies, indirect as it may be, that for-profit colleges are getting. That industry, of course, is to the great detriment of huge numbers of poor youngsters lured into taking out big loans to attend “colleges” that leave them with few skills and big debts, unless of course you think the NAACP just makes this stuff up (and the Obama Administration too!).
Lowell, to his credit, keeps hoping another discussion of the issue will get Democrats to wake up and realize these “colleges” aren’t real businesses, that they get almost 100% of their money from federal loans and grant money, albeit indirectly. But as for me, I stopped beating my head against the wall after reading the book Coma.
So to be frank, I don’t expect anyone who has ever actually had to figure out a strategy for winning the Governorship to give the electric car subsidy issue any mind until they get hit with an electric charge. But if Rasmussen is right, then the electric car subsidy thing needs to be dealt with sooner rather than later; after the Great Recession, Wall Street Bailouts, and now Romney, the politics is different.
Bottom line: The electric car industry has the potential of being far more controversial in 2013 than is yet appreciated, It is far different than the business stuff of Warner, or Don Beyer, or even John Hager, the only three business guys who managed to go from business to elected office without an elected position in between, during the two-party era.
This may be totally unfair, that’s for those who feel qualified to make such value judgments. But if the poll is right, then you have the age old PR maxim: the dogs don’t like the dog food. So it doesn’t matter whether Terry has pulled of a business miracle. If the public doesn’t see it that way, then it isn’t that for purposes of elective office.
If it were me, I would be doing some hard thinking about how the federal subsidy issue – past, present, and future – in terms of the electric car industry is likely to play out in 2013. If you wait until the issue appears front and center, it will be too late to anything but cross your fingers.