“Cash for Clunkers” Tapped Out; White House to “Assess” Program (UPDATED: C for C Gets Reprieve)


The federal Car Allowance Rebate System — better known as “cash for clunkers,” under which cognomen it has been a subject of great public interest since it went into effect July 1 — may already be out of money, says the Times. Though the official web site says there’s $779 million dollars left in the fund, “sources in Congress” have leaked that the program is tapped out and would be suspended. The program is supposed to run until November 1.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood also told the press the program would be cut off, but the White House now says merely that the program is “popular” and that they are going to “assess the situation”…

Critics might with reason say its planners have been spectacularly short-sighted; one billion isn’t much when the avarice of the American people is excited. Maybe the Feds thought the response would be similar to that of the ill-attended digital TV converter giveaway (which, by the way, expires today). Of course, the converters are worth less than $100, while cash for clunkers applicants can get rebates of between $3,500 and $4,500 by trading in cars that are less fuel-efficient than the ones they are planning to buy.

Conservatives, some of whom had advised their readers to game the system for extra federal largesse, proclaim this “yet another example how the government can get nothing right.” Liberals may take heart that the American People are not so devoted to conservative principles that they will not take a government handout.

Update: The White House says you’ve got through this weekend, at least, to get your C for C trade-in. And Congress plans to vote today on adding another $2 billion to the program. That should get them through next week!