Tax breaks for liberal fashion statements

Tax breaks for liberal fashion statements

We went out for a Sunday drive the other day (Sunday, as it happens) and ended up in the western suburbs of Boston: Lexington, Concord, Bedford, Lincoln. In addition to being the birthplace of the American Revolution, they also happen to be full of extremely wealthy and (because it’s Massachusetts) liberal people. So would you care to guess which predominated in driveways and on the streets? If you said Toyota Prius you are correct.

That little hybrid gas-electric car is the new status symbol automobile of a certain segment of the rich liberal set. Now certainly, plenty of non-liberal, non-rich people own Prius’s (Prii?), but lots more are owned by people who voted for John Kerry and maxed out their allowable donations to his failed presidential bid.

The Acton Institute blog noticed a commentary in a recent Weekly Standard examining hybrid cars. The article noted that even though the cars don’t deliver on their promised fuel economy benefits and they’re inconvenient to use, they’re still very popular. Even more, you and I are subsidizing the purchase of the vehicles by these wealthy six-figure blue-blood Blue State liberals.

The federal government subsidizes hybrid fashion statements with tax breaks that benefit the rich. The average household income of a Civic hybrid owner ranges between $65,000 to $85,000 a year; it’s more than $100,000 for the owner of an Accord. The median income of a Toyota Prius owner is $92,000; for a Highlander SUV owner $121,000; and for a luxury Lexus SUV owner it’s over $200,000.

All of those are hybrid cars that qualify for federal tax breaks. This year the tax deduction for buying one of these cars jumps from $2,000 to $3,400, which generally results in a $700 benefit to the purchaser.

Gee, and I thought liberals always complained about tax breaks for the rich. I guess they only complain when it’s conservative rich people—which usually means middle-class conservatives.

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  • My wife’s cousin is a naval nuclear engineer and a conservative.  He has a hybrid car which he says in his experience DOES deliver on fuel economy and is VERY convenient on cross country trips (many fewer stops.)  I don’t think he’s easily fooled by nonsense.

    I myself drove it once for him from Baltimore to Washington and it was an interesting experience.

  • I have to agree with the first poster, and I’m as socially conservative as they come.

    I do see your point about tax breaks for the rich, but don’t bash good, promising technology just because a lot of liberals currently own the cars.  There’s nothing inherently liberal about conservation, per se.  And I happen to think that it’s good that the govermnent is encouraging this R&D, and if that takes the form of tax incentives for buyers, so be it.  I think it’s money well spent.

    Expect Bush to make similar comments in his upcoming State of the Union address.  Lessening our oil dependence, especially foreign oil dependence, is in our best interests in every conceivable way.

    Conservatives like to breathe, too.  And even though I’m a conservative, and I live an hour from Acadia National Park, I never go there anymore because the smog is SO bad, there are literally only about 10 days a year anymore where visibility exceeds 15 miles.  And on those 10-15 mile days, the air is brownish yellow.  The Jet stream carries all the crap from NY/NJ/MA up our way.


    Oh, and there’s the whole funding despotic OPEC governments thing, too.  Don’t like Islam being a player in world politics?  Stop buying their stuff.

  • I think you missed the point. Even the many fans and owners of the cars say they don’t give the gas mileage savings that are claimed.

    Please read the whole linked article before commenting and telling me I’m wrong.

  • Dom, I didn’t say you were wrong!  I was just pointing out that there’s something to be said for these cars by people who have no liberal axe to grind and are competent to judge whether they are getting an advantage to themselves on the road. 

    Most of the time people aren’t 100% right or 100% wrong and that’s what discussion is for.

  • Jeff,

    When you are a partisan Republicrat, you see everything as a means to show that the Repubs are 100% right and the Crats are 100% wrong, or vice versa depending on which type of Republicrat you are. When Bush proposes more tax breaks for vehicles like these, the Repubs will change their story, and talk about how important it is to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, etc. Finally, is anyone really surprised that manufacturers of products exaggerate claims. Like Dom, I am a fan of Macintosh computers, but battery life claims by Apple are long running jokes in the Mac community. No one expects Apple to tell the real world truth. They only expect Apple to cover their A** so they don’t get sued. I am sure that all vehicles get less real world mileage than the commercials say.

    NB Dom, I am granting your point that the vehicles are not as economical as the advertising would suggest.

  • Who says I’m a Republicrat? All I’m doing is pointing out that the article says that the owners themselves say the cars don’t live up to the hype and that meanwhile we’re giving tax breaks to the liberals who buy them. Like I said, the article spells out exactly how they fall short not just of the marketing hype that all manufacturer mileage estimates are, but even of the real world estimates. Consumer Reports, which is famous for not having an axe to grind, says the hybrid cars are no better than regular gasoline cars in the end.

    My main problem is with the hypocritical liberals who decry tax breaks for the rich yet stay silent when they get one for their own rich selves.

    By the way, you should replace your battery. My iBook gets the full 4-6 hours per charge that Apple claims.

  • DOM:“Who says I’m a Republicrat?”

    You do… with just about every word that spews forth from your keyboard.

    Among your oft-displayed, endearing qualities,
    “subtlety” rarely appears.


  • Don’t be an ass, Dick. Not two days ago I was taking George Bush and most other Republicans to task for failing to live up to conservative ideals. Call me a conservative. Call me a Catholic. I’m not Republicrat, Republican, or Democrat.