You’ve probably heard news reports over the past few weeks about the Obama administration’s “Cash for Clunkers” program. In a nutshell, Americans can trade in their gas guzzling, inefficient cars for a rebate towards a new, more energy efficient auto. The rebate amount varies between $3500 and $4500 depending a few factors…but the bottom line is that as long as the clunker can run and the new car has a better fuel efficiency, you’ll be eligible towards a rebate. Already, the $1 billion allotted for the program has almost dried up, so the government is currently in the process of approving another $2 billion (the bill was already approved in the House – now it’s up to the Senate).
Many opponents have tried their hardest to find fault with the program, but after a few weeks, it’s biggest critics are changing their tune. Diane Feinstein, who was initially skeptical that the fuel-economy requirements of the program were too lax, was just quoted in Time Magazine, saying ”this program has done much better than we ever thought it would for the environment”. And as the vote to extend the program is now in the Senate, the NY Times reports that even Senator Jim DeMint, who has been one of the most vocal opponents, said he would not use his power to block replenishing the program’s funds.
I can tell you from personal experience that this program has had a huge impact. This past weekend, I was in DC visiting my friend TJ, and we spent a chunk of time looking for a new car. The dealership we ended up at was packed with people…not just browsing the lot, but actually driving out in new cars. The refreshingly trustworthy and honest salesman we worked with said that since the program was announced, the influx of customers has been overwhelming. There was definitely a buzz in the air. I saw an incredibly diverse group of people crammed in the showroom…grannies, young people, huge families, 1st-generation immigrants, business executives, etc.
It’s about time we heard some good news related to the Great Recession and the stimulus that was intended to create some tangible results. Hopefully this is just the beginning…
Above image courtesy of www.chunkypita.com