Rand Paul’s Push to End Electric Car Subsidies and Mandatory A.M. Radio

Sen. Rand Paul (R–Ky.) is trying to stop legislation that requires automakers to continue putting dashboard A.M. radio in cars. His new amendment to the A.M. radio bill would also eliminate electric vehicle subsidies.
Earlier this year, Sen. Ed Markey (D–Mass.) introduced the AM For Every Vehicle Act, with the explicit goal of ensuring “that this resilient and popular communication tool does not become a relic of the past.” A skeptic might respond that if A.M. radio is both resilient and popular, car manufacturers would continue to provide it—but eight of the 20 major automobile companies have ceased offering the service, according to Markey’s own press release. The market currently provides some cars that have A.M. radio and others that do not; yet a bipartisan group of lawmakers, including Sen. Ted Cruz (R–Texas) believe that the federal government must mandate it.
Enter Paul. On Tuesday, the senator introduced an amendment that would obviate the AM For Every Vehicle Act while also eliminating the electric vehicle tax credit.
“Mandating that all cars have AM radio is antithetical to any notion of limited government,” said Paul on the floor of the U.S. Senate.
Supporters of the AM For Every Vehicle Act contend that the service is necessary for public safety in that it communicates information about driving conditions and extreme weather. Of course, there are many, many other ways for drivers to get that information, including from any passenger’s cellphone. There’s nothing stopping automobile manufacturers from equipping cars with A.M. radio, but federal legislators who support the bill are effectively saying that they know better.
Cruz sparred with Paul over his amendment, asserting that the AM for Every Vehicle Act was really about protecting free speech. Paul disagreed strenuously.
“The debate over free speech, as listed in the First Amendment, is that government shall pass no law,” said Paul. “It has nothing to do with forcing your manufacturer to have AM radio. This legislation attempts to insert Congress’s judgment into a question best decided by American consumers.”
Watch Paul’s full remarks here.