Senate Passes Cash for Clunkers Program

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The Senate passed the Cash for Clunkers Program today, which gives consumers with cars that get less than 18 miles per gallon the ability to turn them in for a $3,500 or $4,500 cash voucher. The bill was nearly defeated by Republicans, but Democratic support saved the day in part due to Obama’s lobbying of the program. The President still needs to sign the bill into law.

Although many people believe that the program is designed to reduce global warming emissions through the eradication of gas guzzling cars, its true purpose is to help out struggling automakers and car dealers with new car sales. A person who receives a credit as part of the program cannot buy a used car with the monies. Car sales in 2009 are predicted to be nearly half of what they were in 2008.

The bill was sponsored by Senator Debbie Stabenow, a Michigan Democrat and one of the states most affected by the turmoil in the auto industry. After the bill was passed, Stabenow said, This is an emergency for families and small businesses — for an industry that has been the backbone of our economy for a generation.”

The program will be implemented by the Transportation Department and this is expected to happen by early August. As part of their duties, the Transportation Department will create a public website for consumers and dealers to get more information, will certify “cash for clunkers” dealers and distribute the program vouchers.

 

Joanna Schroeder

Joanna is a writer and consultant specializing in renewable energy and sustainable agriculture issues.