More Cash For Clunkers Likely

How big of a hit was the program, really?

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So I could not have been more wrong about my prediction that car consumers might not warm up to the "cash-for-clunkers" program.  By almost all accounts, the program has been a massive hit. Two billion dollars spent and over 200,000 cars bought are impressive statistics.

But we know how deceiving statistics can be.  In the Journal today, Jeremy Anwyl explains:

...on July 27, Edmunds.com published an analysis showing that in any given month 60,000 to 70,000 “clunker-like” deals happen with no government program in place. The 200,000-plus deals the government was originally prepared to fund through the program’s Nov. 1 end date were about the “natural” clunker trade-in rate.

Even so, Congress looks poised to give more money to the program. One senator not ready to do that is Claire McCaskill (D-MO) who posted on her Twitter account:

We simply cannot afford any more taxpayr $ to extend cash for clunkers. Idea was to prime the pump, not subsidize auto purchases forever.

Regardless of the merits, it seems odd to continue the program. Its popularity has surpassed Transportation Secretary LaHood's expectations. If it's been such a success, why not just declare victory?

 I should mention that "success" in popularity has nothing to do with the environmental goals of the program--we probably will never know if the program made a reduction in emissions or not (see my previous post here.)