Dave, the simple fact is that Kingston has been infected by Potomac Fever. He not only enjoys spending Other People’s Money, he also thinks that he knows what’s best for the rest of us–witness his recent “Fuel Choices for American Security Act.”
I, along with James Dellinger, have written about it here. In brief, Kington’s bill decides the “right amount” of ethanol that the U.S. should use and the “right amount” of money that needs to be invested in electric/gas hybrid technology. Kingston likes to say that this bill gives the market a boost. At one of the press events promoting the bill (photo here) I asked why, if the ideas in the bill were so good, why wasn’t the market already doing these things? I might as well have cracked a loud fart at a funeral.
Kingston responded to the effect that this time the market was not responding to higher gas prices the way it did in the wake of the 1973 Arab oil embargo. While that was a bit vague, I suspect that what he meant is that the auto companies were not making lots of new vehicle models that get higher gas mileage the way they did in the mid-1970s. There is a reason for this: there are already plenty of high-mileage vehicles on the market and the sales of them have surged in wake of higher gas prices.
So, the market is responding. But for someone who has Potomac Fever like Kingston, it’s not responding the way he thinks it should.