The ill-fated French queen Marie Antoinette was famed for responding to complaints by her subjects on the economic maladies of the time: “Let them eat cake!” While this has been debunked, Americans can’t help but conjure images of the queen who would later meet the guillotine when they heard a recent comment by Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow (D).
Yesterday, at a Senate committee meeting, Stabenow bragged about driving her electric car from Michigan to Washington, DC: “I just have to say . . .after waiting a long time to finally get my electric vehicle . . . I went by every single gas station. It didn’t matter how high (gas prices) were.”
With the average price of an electric car ranging around $50,000 (some outlets offer a higher average of $59,000, but the Chevy Volt is just under $30,000), most Americans aren’t anticipating purchasing an electric vehicle anytime soon. Plus, more Americans are seeing their wages decreasing as the pay more for everyday necessities such as gas and groceries.
Senator Stabenow’s comments come across as quite tone-deaf. The average household income in Michigan is $57,000; even the Senator’s constituents as a whole aren’t able to afford an electric vehicle, even with the tax breaks and other incentives.
Conservatives on Twitter certainly let Senator Stabenow know just how insensitive her comments were for the average American. “Let them buy Teslas!” one user tweeted.
While Stabenow was likely trying to make the economic situation of the United States a bit more positive, the comments offered the appearance that Stabenow, whose net worth is reported to be approximately $300,000. As a Senator, Stabenow earns $174,000 per year.
Stabenow also said Tuesday that she anticipates a time when Americans are transitioning to electric vehicles so that they “aren’t . . . dependent on the whims of the oil companies.” This statement doesn’t necessarily qualify for Pinnochios, a description used when a political leader outright fibs about a policy or an issue affecting Americans. However, oil prices are largely based on the price of oil futures, which are made on the stock market by speculators. The current price of one barrel of oil is hovering around $120.
Stabenow made her comments during a Senate Finance Committee hearing in which Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen testified about inflation and the idea that Congressional spending is affecting inflation. Yellen had been invited to the hearing to make some clarifications on how the Biden Administration is fighting inflation, which is around 8.3 percent. Yellen said that two percent inflation is the goal of the Fed, and she did concede that she was wrong about inflation last year.
Conservative commentator Greg Price responded to Stabenow’s comments with statistics regarding the average price of an electric vehicle when compared with one’s yearly income. His point was that not all Americans can afford to simply go out and purchase an electric vehicle since they no longer have to worry about the price of gas.
Other critics have brought to light issues with the current electric grid, which many fear is not prepared to take on the extra demand that electric cars would present. They have pointed out warnings from energy experts that both California and Texas may experience rolling blackouts this summer. Last year, Texas experienced blackouts during a historic snow and ice event that froze the wind turbines powering a large portion of the electric grid in the state. California has experienced rolling blackouts for years.
Another issue has to do with the actual upkeep of an electric vehicle. Most individuals who might finance an electric vehicle would not only see an increase in their insurance rates, but they may also see a significant increase in their home utility bills when charging the vehicle at home. Critics have posited that electric vehicles actually cost closer to 0.74 cents per mile while a gas-powered car costs around twenty cents per mile to operate.
As the HodgeTwins tweeted, “We (Americans) can’t afford to just go out and buy electric vehicles, nor do we all want to.”
The fact is, most Americans are doing their best to keep food on the table. They’re not in the market for an electric vehicle as of late.