Washington — President Barack Obama’s repeated efforts in prior State of the Union addresses to boost auto vehicle research have gone nowhere in Congress.
In face of opposition from Congress — largely from Republicans — policy efforts aimed at promoting electric vehicles and other advanced vehicles have not advanced. It is among many policy proposals geared toward Michigan and other states for which Obama has struggled to win support.
Other presidents similarly have floated ideas during their annual speeches. President George H. W. Bush in 1990 proposed planting a “billion trees a year.” In 1996, President Bill Clinton proposed allowing public schools to require school uniforms.
In the 2013 State of the Union address, Obama proposed to “use some of our oil and gas revenues to fund an Energy Security Trust that will drive new research and technology to shift our cars and trucks off oil for good” — saying he wanted to “free our families and businesses from the painful spikes in gas prices we’ve put up with for far too long.”
In March, Obama proposed that Congress approve $2 billion in funding for advanced vehicle technology during the next decade, the latest in a series of proposals to boost research for cars and trucks.
Republicans dismissed the idea, and it hasn’t gone anywhere.
In 2009, when Democrats controlled Congress, Obama won $2.4 billion in funding from the $787 billion stimulus package to award cash grants to battery companies and automakers to help make electric vehicles more prevalent. Since Republicans retook the House after the 2010 elections, Congress hasn’t approved Obama’s ideas to boost electric vehicles and research.
Among other Obama ideas that haven’t gained traction:
■Last year, Obama called on Congress to add 94 cents a pack to the federal $1.01 excise tax on cigarettes to fund expansion of preschool programs — including those championed by Gov. Rick Snyder. Congress didn’t approve the plan, although Snyder found money in the state budget to expand Michigan’s free preschool program.
■Obama in 2013 called for a steep hike in the minimum wage to $9 an hour by 2015, up from $7.25. This year, he is expected to up the ante to $10.10 an hour — a rate he will apply by executive order to federal contract workers.
■Last year, Obama also called on Congress to fund up to 15 manufacturing innovation hubs seeking up to $1 billion in funding, modeled after a pilot institute in Youngstown, Ohio. He is asking for new tax credits for manufacturing communities to attract investments and jobs. After the 2012 address he talked about need for college affordability and then visited the University of Michigan later that week.