Cash For Clunkers: Opposition to the Program

Scott Benjamin

A car turned in as a clunker sits in a recycle dumpster at Capitol City Buick/Pontiac/GMC in Berlin, Vt., on July 28, 2009. (AP Photo/Toby Talbot)

In yesterday's post, I told you that charities are the reason that Congress decided on 18 miles per gallon as the limit on "clunker" trade-ins. Yet, despite that major modification of the program -- which, by the way, was intended to alleviate some of the concerns that charities had prior to the start of Cash for Clunkers -- a lot of charities are still unhappy. Just read this article from NPR's Elizabeth Shogren if you want verification of that. But they're not the only ones that don't like it...

You may not read or hear about it in your typical dose of daily news; in fact, most of the reports focus on the positive aspects of the bill. However, opposition to the Cash for Clunkers program is everywhere -- that is, once you really start looking for it.

In an article called Handouts for Hummers, California Democratic senator Dianne Feinstein and Susan Collins, a Republican senator from Maine, agree that the program is seriously flawed. They charge that it didn't start out that way, but rather, that's what it evolved into after the "Detroit auto industry lobbyists got involved." Feinstein and Collins say that this is actually "another big bailout. These bills are expertly designed to provide Detroit one last windfall in selling off gas guzzlers currently sitting on dealer lots because they're not a smart buy." And remember, that's from two senators that introduced the original bill. So, is the new bill "tailored perfectly to the auto industry's specifications" as they suggest? My suggestion: Read the article and decide for yourself.

And there's more...

Seven trade associations (listed in this article) that represent the automotive aftermarket oppose the Cash for Clunkers bill, too. Earlier this year, and several months prior to approval of the bill, the seven individual groups submitted a joint letter to Congress asking lawmakers to vote against a program that they said "for no proven value would do significant harm to the automotive aftermarket. A $285 billion industry that employs approximately 4.5 million Americans in all 50 states." In that letter, they included a list of nine reasons why the bill should be (or now, should have been) rejected. Again, you'll have to read their arguments and come to a decision based on your own position.

And although there's plenty more where that came from, I only have space for one more example...

The car-buying, or should I say potential clunker-trading, public also has its fair share of issues with this program. Not only are people generally unhappy that they can't get a rebate for buying a used car that provides outstanding fuel economy -- and there are plenty of those out there -- but many are also angered by the 18 miles per gallon or less limit. If you're looking for proof, just take a look at Red Oscar's comment on my post from yesterday. I think you'll understand his frustration with the situation. I certainly do.

I know it sounds like I'm just piling-on here, but really, if you take the time to investigate, you'll find that there are many more groups and individuals out there that simply don't like the Car Allowance Rebate System (CARS) -- aka Cash for Clunkers -- for one reason or another. Just keep in mind that it's always going to be this way when you're dealing with a program of this scale -- you'll be able to find supporters and critics for every issue. Cash for Clunkers is no exception.

More related stuff: How the 2008 EPA Fuel Economy Ratings Work How to Buy a Car HowStuffWorks Videos - The Supreme Court: The United States Congress How Cars Work