Stabenow has lost touch with Michigan residents

Suffering drivers should get help, not mockery

U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow caused an uproar when she bragged about the ease of traveling to Washington, D.C., in her electric vehicle. Stabenow says she “went by every single gas station and it didn’t matter how high it was,” referring to gas prices, which now average $5.20 in Michigan, according to AAA.

Stabenow’s insinuation that the solution to high gas prices is to buy an electric vehicle is an insult to many Michiganders. The senator bought a Chevrolet Bolt, according to Green Car Reports, which retails starting at approximately $30,000. The average price of an electric vehicle is $60,054 according to NBC News.

If Stabenow understands how Michiganders are being hit by a soaring cost of utilities, the highest gas prices in the nation’s history, and inflation at a 40-year high, she has a strange way of showing it.

The average annual salary in Michigan is $32,854. After taxes, that salary is reduced to approximately $29,429, which equals $2,452 in take-home pay per month, according to Forbes. The Census Bureau notes that the median housing cost is $892 in the state, with 28.1% of residents paying $1,000 or more.

Payments for the Chevy Bolt would be approximately $600 per month for five years, according to MotorTrend. That means a person could spend around 24% of his or her monthly income on just the car payment — not even factoring in car insurance (Michigan has the second-highest rates in the nation), the expense of installing a home charger, and the high cost of electricity to charge the vehicle (Michigan has the highest energy rates in the Midwest). Add in the median cost of rent, and 61% of a person's earnings have been consumed just on room and transportation.

The average cost for car insurance for a Chevy Bolt is $1,529 per year, according to MoneyGeek, or $127 per month. An electric vehicle owner will now spend 66% of his or her monthly income on an electric vehicle and rent. These are conservative numbers. After paying rent, an electric vehicle payment and insurance, Michiganders making $32,854 annually will have approximately 34% of their monthly income left to spend on food, medical insurance, residential insurance, clothing, and other incidentals. If they have children, the expenses are higher.

Even if the average Michigander could afford an electric vehicle, the expenses in time and money would be just beginning. A trip from Lansing, where the senator resides, to Washington, D.C., is approximately 585 miles. From Detroit it is 520 miles. A Bolt can travel 247 miles before having to charge, which means in the best of circumstances, it took an extra hour of time for the senator to charge the vehicle. And she had to do this twice.

However, the minimal time to charge is unlikely. A recent Wall Street Journal story recounts the nightmare of a woman and her friend road tripping from New Orleans to Chicago and back. The total time they spent charging their electric vehicle along the way was a whopping 18 hours – for a four-day trip. I don’t know about you, but having to write-off 18 hours of vacation time waiting for a ride to charge is no bueno.

In other words, most of Stabenow’s constituents cannot afford an electric vehicle. Even if they could, who wants to waste valuable time charging a vehicle? Federal lawmakers, according to CNBC spent only 145 out of 261 working days in session during 2018. But the average U.S. worker only gets 11 days of paid time off per year. If you plan on buying an electric vehicle and making a long road trip this summer, you'd better make that 10 days.

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.