April 2014
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The Unbelievable Success of Cash for Clunkers

One of President Obamessiah’s greatest achievements in his Nobel Peace Prize-worthy presidency is, apparently, the Cash for Clunkers program.  Designed to curb greenhouse gases (the ones that contribute to global climate change more than the gigantic nuclear explosion in space called the sun), it took taxpayer money to buy people better cars for trading in their old ones.  While nobody’s satisfactorily explained why this program is necessary, it’s been touted as very successful.

Go figure:

Burton Abrams and George Parsons of the University of Delaware evaluate the efficiency of the recently introduced ‘Cash for Clunkers’ program and conclude that the cost exceeds the benefit by approximately $2000 per vehicle.

Well, they’re just partisans who hate Obama.  Not today’s non-partisan patriots who correctly opposed Bush in everything he did.  If nothing else, the program saved the car industry and helped all those car dealers keep their jobs, right?

Edmunds.com reports that “September’s light-vehicle sales rate will fall to 8.8 million units . . . the lowest rate in nearly 28 years, tying the worst demand on record. After the cash-for-clunkers program boosted August sales to their first year-over-year increase since October 2007, demand has plunged. In at least the last 33 years, the U.S. seasonally adjusted annual rate has only dropped as low as 8.8 million units once — in December 1981 — with records stretching back to January 1976.”

So essentially it artificially inflated car sales for a month or so.  And now September’s car sales were the lowest in almost three decades.  It was a sugary topping over a mound of nothing, much like the current administration.

Well, hold on.  I mean, it’s the rabid right-wing rag National Review that said it.  So you shouldn’t buy it, right?  Okay, what about the hyperpartisan, Obama-hating Economist?

Meanwhile, the ever-assiduous David Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff points out that, if one strips out the stockmarket and yield curve components, the US leading indicator in August would have been flat. This is more a financial market recovery than a real one. Indeed, the coincident indicator was flat, an odd result if we are really experiencing a V-shaped recovery.

Damned right-wingers.  They’re making things up, and what about the environmental impact?  Minimal, at best:

A trickier question is what people would have done if not for the clunkers program. There’s some evidence to suggest that many would have ended up buying a car eventually anyway. And even without the program, people recently have been buying higher-mileage vehicles. “Strangely enough, the average of all cars and light trucks bought in the first half of 2009 was over 28 miles per gallon,”—compared with 27 mpg for 2008 model-year cars and 26.6 for 2007 model-year cars—says Schipper. “We are scratching our heads about that one,” he adds. If the trend is toward more fuel-efficient cars anyway, then the environmental and energy savings benefits of cash for clunkers gets even smaller.

But it’s Business Week.  They’ve been carrying the partisan right-wing ultraconservative Republicans’ water since Lincoln.  What does ABC have to say?

Knittel, the economist at Davis who has studied gas prices and their effects on driving behavior, found that while the program might benefit the economy, it is an inefficient way to take older cars off the road, to lower carbon emissions and to reduce gasoline consumption.

“The fuel economy increase from the trade-in to new car seems large, but it doesn’t have that big of impact on environment,” he said.

Knittle calculated the program will save approximately 270 gallons of gasoline per car, per year. If a total of 750,000 vehicles are sold, as appears likely, approximately 12,000 barrels of oil a day will be saved in a country that consumes 9 million a day.

“It really is just a drop in bucket in terms of gasoline consumption or vehicle turnover,” said Knittle. “Within the U.S. there are about 250 million cars on the road. When we are playing around with only 700,000, it is hard to get any large impact.”


Like his speeches, like his aspirations, like everything the Obamessiah’s done so far, Cash for Clunkers was a waste of time tarted up to be Important Legislation.  With minimal impact on both the economy and the environment, it’s far from an achievement.  It’s easy to write off criticism of President Obamessiah as blind, rabid partisanship, because it doesn’t actually confront the facts.  Why not just pull a Jimmy Carter and call everyone racist?

3 comments to The Unbelievable Success of Cash for Clunkers

  • Joshua

    Once again, an accomplishment of Obama’s reinterpreted, or should I say, rein-TURD-preted. I noticed in this cute little post that C4C boosted auto sales. Well… DUH. That’s what its supposed to do. Thousands of jobs in America depend on the auto industry. That these vulnerable auto industry workers had a few more months to put food on their tables is no small accomplishment.

    As for its environmental impact, let’s turn to the Bullhorn of the Republican Political Machine, FOX news: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2009/08/04/clunkers-programs-environmental-impact-debate/

    “Sold as an economic stimulus and an environmental salve, the “cash for clunkers” program has succeeded in jump-starting the ailing auto industry.”

    Note the word “succeeded.” But I suppose the slavering anti-Obama crowd would say it SUCKseeded. Also:

    “Data released by the Obama administration showed the new vehicles purchased under the program were 61 percent more fuel-efficient than the trade-ins.

    The average fuel economy of new vehicles purchased under the CARS program is 25.4 mpg and the average fuel economy of vehicles traded in is 15.8 mpg, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa P. Jackson wrote in a letter to senators.

    “This improvement will save the typical buyer $700 to $1,000 per year in fuel costs,” they wrote. “In addition to the money saved on gas, people using the program will have safer cars and lower repair costs, and they will dramatically reduce the pollution released by their vehicles.”

    Oh but the evil Obama administration numbers are no more to be trusted that the Obamamessiah Himself, I suppose?

    I guess The Waterglass is half-empty in some folks’s views.

  • One source? That’s it? One that quotes the administration’s party line?

    You’re right. Cash for Clunkers is an unbelievable success. The air’s cleaner, everyone has more money to burn, and the auto industry is saved.

    The Obamessiah has redeemed us again!

  • Cash for clunkers not only cost car buyers and tax payers a lot of money, it also cost car repair shops and charities that rely on on the revenue generated from car donation a lot of money.