Kill the Gas-Guzzler and Declare Economic War Against Oil

Instead of fighting wars that become intertwined with oil, we should declare economic war to end our addiction to oil, and not fight unnecessary wars.

Make no mistake: If there is an attack against Iran, it would almost certainly trigger both a stock market crash, which could occur anyway after seven years of Bush policies, and a severe recession, or something worse.

Make no mistake: America has the power and strength to end our dependence on the oil economy and the gas-guzzler car. The problem is not only a lack of leadership but a leadership in exactly the wrong direction from Bush, Cheney and now McCain.

America needs a JFK moon-shot program to end our dependence on oil, but what we have is not JFK, but J.R. Ewing and a government that acts as though it is of the oil companies, by the oil companies and for the oil companies and the OPEC oligarchs and oligopolies who are their allies in the tyranny of oil.

America should mobilize to mass-produce a patriot car within five years that achieves 100 miles per gallon or runs on entirely gasoline-free fuels.

The next president should issue a call to action and moon shot-magnitude program to enlist all Americans to a new generation of technology, science and research leadership, similar to JFK reaching the moon within a decade.

Achieving these goals requires serious and dramatic policies, so rather than merely rant, let’s get serious:

First: The president-elect should host a summit including industry leaders, investors, and the great minds of American science and technology. They would develop a program to be introduced as S-1 and HR-1 in the new Congress and signed into law by Presidents Day 2009.

Second: The program would have a clear goal of achieving 100 mile-per-gallon or better cars within five years. It would create new public and private initiatives and incentives to promote solar, wind and geothermal energy and cutting-edge energy-conservation technology and business.

Third: The program should enlist and benefit all Americans and abandon economic theology of the left and right. It should include demand-side Keynesian proposals to benefit consumers and build economies of scale to mass-market new-generation autos and energy sources, with supply-side incentives to companies and investors.

Fourth: Let’s revisit capital gains. For new-generation cars, promotion of renewable energy such as solar, wind and geothermal, and to support cutting-edge conservation business, capital gains tax cuts make sense.

Let’s consider a two-year capital gains holiday for investors holding long-term assets in automotive companies that reach the 100 mile-per-gallon target within five years. We could add an additional one-to-two-year capital gains holiday, or an extraordinary employee tax credit, for companies increasing employment by 15 percent above current levels.

Capital gains tax reduction aimed at new-generation companies and products would create huge incentives for managers, dramatic benefit for workers, rich rewards for investors and the equivalent of a giant progressive tax cut for consumers saving major money through lower energy costs.

Capital gains tax cuts for next-generation business will create a new wave of jobs for workers who pay taxes, and economic growth from new-wave business that reaps huge energy cost savings for consumers and companies.

Fifth: A $5,000 tax credit for consumers who buy 100 MPG cars and tax credits for buying products such as solar energy, together with the creative use of government procurement purchasing power, would stimulate demand and accelerate progress.

Sixth: Create a new Civilian Conservation Corps to inspire young people, including grants for extra summer courses to study new-energy science and business, support research and education, and serve in the Peace Corps to help developing nations save energy.

JFK challenged and mobilized the nation to reach the moon. He did not go hat in hand to royal monarchs begging for oil. America did not surrender our security and prosperity to oligopolies, cartels, royal families and speculators putting profit ahead of patriotism.

When JFK pointed to the moon, it was big, bold, hard and daring — and we made it. America is a good, great, powerful nation. We can do it again by mobilizing our incredible ingenuity, talent, brainpower, entrepreneurial spirit and patriotic citizenry to set bold goals and surpass them.