A few weeks ago, Financial Times revealed that a Trump staffer had bad news for the Cleantech industry: that Trump would gut the Inflation Reduction Act (including EV tax credits) if he gets back into the White House. Now, GM and Nissan are taking the news seriously enough that they are asking Trump to not do that if he wins.
It’s No Secret That Trump Would Gut The Inflation Reduction Act
The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) is part of a wider package of investments in clean technology that has happened under the Biden Administration. Everything from money for heat pumps, EV tax credits, and money for infrastructure has been passed, with the other big EV story being part of the Infrastructure Law’s NEVI provisions.
But, anyone watching Trump and the Heritage Foundation shouldn’t be surprised that Trump would gut the Inflation Reduction Act. As I reported months ago, Project 2025 lays out a blueprint for quick action should Trump win, complete with a legal plan, a policy plan, and a supply of yes men Trump could hire to get the job done.
The plan relies on Unitary Executive Theory, which posits that a president shouldn’t be constrained by laws and Congress the way most believe. Instead, a president should wield an almost dictatorial power over the Executive Branch of the federal government, doing almost anything he wants and ordering anyone in the branch to follow his lead. This contrasts sharply with the part of the U.S. Constitution that says presidents must “take care that the laws be faithfully executed”, so proponents of the theory say that executive power extends beyond faithful execution, or that there’s room for interpretation.
Between this and plans that Trump wants to use the Insurrection Act to use the military to end protests against him should he win, many Americans have been wondering whether he’d use Unitary Executive and the military to establish a dictatorship. When asked point blank about this, Trump said he only wanted to be a dictator on “day one”, with a goal to “Drill, drill, drill!”.
In other words, Trump says he intends to simply ignore the Inflation Reduction Act, the Infrastructure Law, and any other provision of law if it gets in the way of the fossil fuel industry. We’d be fools to not take the man at his word.
How Trump Would Gut These Laws
The Financial Times doesn’t give a lot of detail on how Trump would gut the Inflation Reduction Act and Infrastructure Law. Obviously, this would be a lot easier if the Republican Party managed to win both the House and the Senate with sufficient margins to overcome any filibuster, something Trump-aligned think tanks mention.
But, the FT report came out weeks before Trump’s dictator “on day one” comments, so the staff there wouldn’t have had as much hindsight as we have today. Project 2025 and news that Trump would use the military were out there, but FT wants to be a serious publication and might still think an act of Congress would be necessary.
On the other hand, I’m not worried about “being serious” when the serious people don’t see a serious threat coming and don’t want to believe what they’ve seen with their own eyes and heard with their own ears. Normalcy bias is a powerful mental defense mechanism against seemingly unimaginable threats, but it can get you seriously hurt or killed if you let denial go on for too long.
It would, in fact, be quite easy for a newly re-minted President Trump to simply fire the people implementing the IRA and NEVI provisions and order their new yes man replacements to halt implementation of the law. This would obviously result in a lawsuit, but such a lawsuit would take years to wind its way through the courts. And, with the Supreme Court dominated by his own party, they could very easily issue an opinion that gives Trump leeway to ignore Congress at the end of that process.
Are the center-right Democrats going to break the rules and do things to make Trump follow the law? Here’s the correct answer to that, and a pretty good indicator of what would happen in the Oval Office when they see all of the sternly-worded letters arrive. If any of his yes men are concerned about what the shitlibs think, he’ll probably ask how many divisions they command.
GM and Nissan Are Taking This Seriously
It’s apparent that GM and Nissan aren’t in denial, though. They know that the idea that Trump would gut the Inflation Reduction Act and the Infrastructure Law is serious business that would hurt the bottom line.
GM’s CFO said, “We don’t want to end up saying this vehicle program is really good with the IRA, only to have the IRA go away, and now suddenly, the vehicle can’t make money.” Nissan’s executive had similar concerns, but wanted to avoid the politics.
Experts also made it clear that gutting the IRA and Infrastructure law would damage foreign investment in EVs. Companies from Europe and Asia have been investing in clean technology and EVs for the United States more because of those laws. Suddenly and unexpectedly losing them would mean a loss of confidence in U.S. EV sales. Even the serious possibility during 2024 if Trump continues to do well in the polls could cause a lot of problems and setbacks.
How Can This Be Stopped?
Plan A is obviously voting, but that’s not going to help if Democrats can’t get their act together. Trump is doing well in the polls despite Republican setbacks in recent elections, so him getting into office seems fairly likely right now. To reverse that, the Biden Administration is going to have to get serious about winning instead of pandering to special interest groups that press the White House into supporting public policies that are electoral losers.
I have ideas on how Biden could seriously undercut Trump’s support without losing much, but we’d be getting off topic with those.
It’s also essential that Democrats stop living in denial about the possibility of Trump stealing the election, and his followers going along with it because they think Democrats were trying to steal it (again). Whether he wins or steals, people need to stop pretending that he won’t take unlawful action against key programs in office.
In other words, there needs to be Plans B through F (you know what the F stands for and who it would be happening to) in both the industry and politics. Failure to make realistic plans for those eventualities is a plan to fail that could take decades to repair.
I’ll stop short of recommendations for Plan F so I don’t end up on any (more?) government lists.
Featured image by GM.
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