For as long as I've been legally licensed to drive, I'veowned my share of what could easily be described as "clunker" cars.
From a reformulated state police cruiser that got justsouth of nine miles per gallon, to a more upscale Ford LTD, whose airconditioning system repeatedly went on sabbatical during one brutal Arizonasummer.
In between there were cranky European imports, aconvertible Chevrolet with a passing acquaintance of the concept ofwaterproofing and a half-ton pickup truck whose suspension and shocks meeklysurrendered carrying just one-fifth of its advertised payload.
If only they'd offered the current "Cash forClunkers" program back then. I certainly could have used up to $4,500 totrade in some of those four-wheeled albatrosses for a more fuel-efficientvehicle.
The president has gone on record as saying that withnearly a quarter-million trade-ins the CFC program "has succeeded wellbeyond our expectations and all expectations."
I found that statement a bit odd since the program burnedthrough its initial budget of $1 billion within a week (as compared to itsestimated end date of November 1) and is in dire need of an additional infusionof $2 billion if it is to continue.
Obviously the automobile industry wants to keep theprogram going, citing a rise in Internet car shopping as well as moretraditional showroom traffic. But the well-known online auto site, Edmunds.com,astutely pointed out that in excess of 100,000 car shoppers held off their intendedauto purchases in anticipation of the CFC's July 24 launch.
Again, not to be a dorsal fin at a shipwreck, Edmunds.comstated that in any given month some 60,00 to 70,000 clunker trades occurwithout a government-funded program in place.
Therefore, extrapolating that out, the 200,000-plus dealsover the past week were in the ballpark of the number of trade-in totals thatwould have transpired by November anyway.
I'm not going to debate whether Congress should vote moremoney into this program or again bloviate in this space that what's reallyneeded to resurrect consumer spending across the board is a stronger wave ofconsumer confidence.
But far more importantly, the CFC program was woefullyunder funded and, as our 43rd president was fond of saying"misunderestimated" from the start.
That should get a lot of folks thinking, particularlythose who are in line for this administration's tiered surtaxes to help fundObamaCare.
If Cash For Clunkers was incompetently structured andfunded, what Category 6 disaster awaits the nation should health care reformpass?
There's no shortage of incredible anecdotes relating tothe government's galactic inability to run its current programs, let alonefuture ones.
It may just prompt some folks to gas up their newfuel-efficient vehicles and take the first road out of town.
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