Redirecting auto funds would stymie innovation, job growth

American auto manufacturers are asking Congress for $34 billion in federal aid to fund their short-term cash needs. It is critical that any agreement not impede innovative, emerging transportation technology companies that will help our nation grow out of the current recession by creating thousands of new green jobs, reduce our dependence on foreign oil, improve our trade balance and help protect our planet.

The White House and some in Congress have proposed redirecting $25 billion currently dedicated for loans to support innovative new technologies. They propose taking funds from the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Incentive Program, which will be competitively awarded to spur development and manufacture of higher-efficiency, alternative-fuel and low-emission vehicles and components.

That would be a mistake.

Proponents of diverting the Advanced Technology loan funds have created a false choice between protecting millions of existing jobs dependent on the domestic auto industry and catalyzing companies that will create new ones. Enabling a vibrant American auto industry is critical to our nation’s economic future, but other funding sources are available to provide the needed aid.

The real question is: How do we invest in innovations that will grow the auto industry for the future?

The answer is maintaining federal support for clean transportation technology innovation that is critical to our long-term economic prosperity and will solidify America’s leadership in the green economy.

Many transformative technologies are not in the distant future, but are being developed and produced today in Silicon Valley. Tesla Motors is bringing to market a revolutionary long-range electric vehicle. Better Place and Coulomb are creating the infrastructure needed to make widespread use of electric vehicles viable. BioFuelBox, Cobalt, Sapphire Energy and Amyris are developing next-generation biofuels. ElectraDrive is converting combustion-engine cars to electric.

Federal support will immediately help emerging companies expand production, open new manufacturing facilities and bring their products to a broader market. Redirecting these loan funds could force Tesla, for example, to defer its announced plans for a new 700,000-square-foot manufacturing complex, costing 1,000 jobs.

Some question whether public funds should be invested in these emerging technologies because they are not yet affordable to all. From cell phones to personal computers, the first wave is initially priced to reflect expensive start-up research and production costs; then prices rapidly decrease with refinements, mass-manufacturing and competition. The purpose of federal loan support is to expedite that process by enabling faster commercialization, manufacturing and job creation.

Innovation is the key to ensuring America’s economic future. In 2007, Congress had the foresight to fund innovative, clean transportation technologies. Now is not the time to reverse course and redirect funds. As a nation, we cannot afford to risk falling further behind in the global race to develop and produce clean technologies. America’s innovators are poised to lead us out of the current recession and the federal government should help them succeed.

San Jose, Calif.

Conservative sits idle as socialism hits high gear

From Serafin Quintanar Jr.

Who is to blame for the axis of socialism in America?

We conservatives often talk about individual responsibility. However, I’ve recently heard a lot of people who claim to be conservatives blaming the Republican presidential ticket, talk show hosts and even other voters for the GOP losses in November.

I can’t speak for anyone else, but I blame only myself for the victories of socialism in America. I sat watching the news instead of campaigning for the candidates I supported. I spent my money on frivolous things, instead of contributing to the causes I care about. I sat idle as the leftist media spewed propaganda instead of spreading the truth to counter it.

If liberty and the Constitution are to survive in America, conservatives like me will have to take personal responsibility for the outcome of elections.

Fresno, Calif.