Cash-for-Clunkers Bill May Fall Afoul of Pseudo-Patriotism

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago
cash for clunkers bill may fall afoul of pseudo patriotism

After Germany’s cash-for-clunkers sales surge, it was only a matter of time, and not much of it, before the US followed suit. The idea failed to make into the federal stimulus package (which is like calling an all-you-can-eat buffet a Weight Watchers’ Special). And so, a bill is born. CNNMoney says aloha, clunker-mania.

The bill, introduced Tuesday by Rep. Betty Sutton, D-Ohio, would provide on- the-spot vouchers between $3,000 to $7,500 to consumers who trade in older vehicles for new, more fuel-efficient cars and trucks. The size of the vouchers would vary, depending on the fuel economy of the car being purchased.

The older vehicles, required to have been built at least eight years ago, would be scrapped and their parts recycled, while the new vehicles would have to meet a certain fuel economy standard – 27 mpg on highways for cars, 24 mpg for light trucks, Sutton said. Consumers could also opt to receive a $3,000 voucher toward mass-transit fares.

Sounds great! How could that possibly go wrong? You know . . . other than all the unintended consequences?

But Sutton’s bill – strongly pushed by Ford Motor Co. (F) and backed by the United Auto Workers – would preclude vouchers from being used on some of the most fuel-efficient cars and trucks, including the Toyota (TM) Prius.

The vouchers would also be limited to cars assembled in North America. “I do not think there should be an expectation of American taxpayers (that) we have to use our tax dollars to incent[ivize] Americans to buy foreign automobiles,” said Rep. Candice Miller, R-Mich., a co-sponsor of the Sutton bill.

More verb[iz]ing? Never mind. Do the domestics really want to open that can of worms? Do they really want the public to scrutinize from whence cometh Chrysler, Ford and GM vehicles? The parts inside? Do they really want to raise the profile of previously invisible non-D2.8 American auto workers whom are getting well and truly stiffed by the Motown bailout buffet?

And what about the obvious question of free trade agreements? WTO? NAFTA? Hello? The head of the US Chamber of Commerce warned against this approach. We’ll keep you posted.

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  • Wsn Wsn on Mar 19, 2009

    This is designed to reward crappy car companies and punish the good ones. I mean, after 8 years, a Toyota Corolla can typically fetch $3000~5000. But a Chrysler Neon/Caliber can fetch about $500~3000. By imposing an 8 year limit, the policy basically made sure crappy cars have the same resale as the good ones. Plus, it actually hurts the environment. If most cars can last 12 years (typical), but we offer the incentives to scrap them at 8 years, then we will produce and buy 50% more cars than needed. That's a huge waste of resource that could go toward education or health care. Not to mention all that extra environmental footprint; think about all the electricity used to produce 50% more cars and the coal pollution caused by generators.

  • RedStapler RedStapler on Mar 19, 2009

    The minimum age is 8 years, what is the maximum age? I suspect a lot of crappy beaters will come back from the grave only to be "culled" for the subsidy if this passes. I also suspect that many of the scrapped cars will wind up overseas distorting other used markets.

  • Art Vandelay I’d grab one of these if I’d spent my working life at GM for sure!
  • Analoggrotto The factory is delayed due to an investigation of a peter puffery ring lead by VoGhost, Tassos, EBFlex a Civic Type-R
  • FreedMike Looking forward to the protests at the factory accusing Toyota of excessive woke-ism. First,, grooming.
  • MrIcky I remember when Gladiators came out and everyone was shocked at how expensive they were. Now all the off road specials have caught up or passed it financially. I like this truck a lot, but I'd still take my Rubicon over this. I'd take this over the Ranger Raptor or Tacoma TRD though. When I found out the increase in track for the new TRD was just wheel offset-I knew they were just phoning it in. Why spend so much R&D on those stupid seats when you could have r&d'd longer arms or a front locker.
  • Alan Hmm, I see a bit of politicking here. What qualifications do you need to run GM or Ford? I'd bet GM or Ford isn't run by experienced people. Anyone at that level in an organisation doesn't need to be a safety whip, you need to have the ability to organise those around you to deliver the required results.