Clunker politics clatter onward

As part of the effort to fund military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, Congress wants to pay well-off Americans to buy new trucks and SUVs.

How does that relate to war funding?

We haven’t the foggiest. We just know the cash-for-clunkers legislation was added to the military appropriations bill that is now awaiting President Barack Obama’s signature.

And how does it target well-off Americans?

To be eligible for a government rebate of $3,500 to $4,500, you must have the wherewithal to purchase a new vehicle, preferably a light truck or SUV, since that’s where much of the excess new-car inventory is.

Not only that, but your current “clunker” that you wish to trade must be 1984 or newer and have a mileage rating of 18 mpg or less. That rules out most cars on the road today, and almost guarantees you’re already driving a large SUV or truck.

How many low- or moderate-income folks do you know right now who can afford to trade in their old truck or SUV for a new one, even with government assistance?

This is a program in which all classes of taxpayers subsidize those with the means to buy new vehicles. And, according to the latest estimates from organizations like
Automotive News, it won’t even put a significant dent in new car inventories in this country during the four months it will be in existence this fall.

Also, because it was changed to encourage the purchase of new trucks and SUVs, it is expected to have only marginal effects on increasing vehicle mileage and reducing carbon dioxide.

The program is — to put it bluntly — a clunker.


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