NPR logo Washington's Bad Week Ends With A Bright Spot: Higher MPG

Washington's Bad Week Ends With A Bright Spot: Higher MPG

President Obama announcing new fuel efficiency standards for model years 2017-2025 cars and light trucks July 29, 2011. MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption
MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images

President Obama announcing new fuel efficiency standards for model years 2017-2025 cars and light trucks July 29, 2011.

MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images

With President Obama announcing new fuel efficiency standards for the auto industry Friday, you could be forgiven for thinking that as we drive off the economic cliff, at least we're getting good gas mileage.

But it occurs to me that today's fuel economy announcement is just about the only thing happening in Washington this week (that we know of) that will make a positive difference for the country's future.

Everything else is about surviving the next few days, or months, or at best the next election. (If going after Pell Grants is about making the future better, it's hard to see the connection.)

The significant increase in fuel economy standards is a big win and the automakers' acquiescence can be seen as another taxpayer dividend for the government rescue.

Not that I expect that will win many converts from among those who believe the only good government intervention is no government intervention.