Congress to Vote on Cash for Clunkers Program

For those of you driving clunkers, you may soon be able to turn that eyesore into cash. The House and Senate have agreed to designate $1 billion for the Cash for Clunkers program to be funded out of the significantly larger $106 billion wartime spending bill. Not yet law (Congress is expected to pass this bill this week) the bill will pay people for their “clunkers”. The goal is twofold: to get fuel inefficient cars off the road and to encourage consumers to buy new, fuel efficient vehicles.

A consumer who has a qualifying car will receive either a $3,500 dollar voucher or a $4,500 voucher. Your voucher credit depends on the improved gas mileage as compared to your current car.

For example, if your new car purchase gets 4 mpg more than your trade, you get $3,500. If the new car gets 10 mpg better than your trade, you get $4,500. Once the voucher is received, the buyer must buy a new car from a certified Cash for Clunker dealer. This is only a great deal for those who have cars worth less than the vouchers.

On the surface, this bill seems decent but it has environmentalists up in arms, and critics are citing the bill as a big rotten lemon. The big environmental contention appears not to be the issue of crushing all the gas guzzling automobiles, but that the bill does more to sell new cars than reduce the impact on global warming. Economists are throwing the bill under the bus and claiming that it will take at least $4 billion to implement this program – not the $1 billion that has been allocated.

Well folks, it looks like our government is offcially in the car business. Do you feel a bit slimy?

Joanna Schroeder

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