The Biden-Buttigieg pitch: It's all free!

For weeks now, Buttigieg has been touting the bill’s huge subsidies for electric car purchasers. “The Build Back Better package includes tax incentives to help purchase an EV,” Buttigieg tweeted on Nov. 1. “How would you use a discount of up to $12,500 toward an electric vehicle?” It’s not a discount of course, but a government subsidy — the government giving consumers money with which to buy the car. But here’s the big pitch: Those who take advantage of the government’s big handout, Buttigieg said recently, would “never have to worry about gas prices again.” Buttigieg said the subsidized electric cars would bestow the greatest benefits on people in rural areas who drive long distances and urban residents who pay the highest gas prices. No more worries!

The problem, of course, is that cars have to run on something. Electric vehicles run on electricity, which is not free. And — this was not part of Buttigieg’s pitch — the Biden administration is seeking to make electricity more expensive. “The administration’s plans for a ‘clean’ electricity sector (by 2035) are really pricey,” notes former Congressional Budget Office head Douglas Holtz-Eakin. “Two trillion dollars for generation, another $2 trillion for transmission, and an unknown price tag for distribution, but $1 trillion for ‘the cost imposed on the distribution system by electric vehicle and photovoltaic solar panel adoption alone.’ That bill is roughly $50 a week for consumers, which is in the same neighborhood as the gas costs that started this political firestorm. It’s the energy costs, Pete, not just gasoline.”

So just like the cost of the Build Back Better agenda is not “zero dollars,” the cost of operating an electric car is far more than never having “to worry about gas prices again.” The administration’s free-stuff pitch is fundamentally deceptive.