Economics

Clunkers: 750,000 Down, 42 Million to Go

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but for cars!

Cash for Clunkers wheezes to a halt at 8 p.m. today, having spent $3 billion to get gas guzzlers off the street:

All told, about 750,000 clunkers will be traded in by the time the program officially ends at 8 p.m. ET on Monday, according to an estimate by George Pipas, sales analyst for Ford Motor Co.

That would be roughly 2% of the approximately 42 million fuel hoggers still clunking along.

In other words, midnight basketball for jalopies has been a less than spectacular achievement, with 98 percent of guzzlers still out on the streets messing up the air and stealing little old ladies' purses.

When Obama said "they are getting the oldest, dirtiest and most air polluting trucks and SUVs off the road for good," he probably just misspoke, and didn't actually mean to imply that Cash for Clunkers would actually get the oldest, dirties vehicles off the road.

No worries, though. If there's one thing we learned from the Bush presidency it's the wisdom of keeping several justifications handy for each major policy decision. No WMDs? That's OK, because…freedom! No environmental gain from cash for clunkers? That's OK, because…stimulus! Ta da!

Read the confessions of a cash for clunkers scammer here

NEXT: Top Republican Defends Big-Government Health Care

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  1. But Wait! Next in line is the cash for crappy appliances!

  2. Crap, nick already gots it covered. Apologies

  3. ben: That’s the next edition of “Who Moved the Guvmint Cheese?”

  4. This policy was so staggeringly stupid as to defy comprehension. The people who put it in place are either the dumbest or most cynical bastards to ever exhale CO2. Then again, these qualities are not mutually exclusive….

  5. I have just barely missed out on ever stimulus program of the last couple years. I make too much money, my car gets 19 mpg, and so on and so forth. If the justification is stimulus, then stop using it to redistribute wealth.

  6. every stimulus….

  7. But I thought this program was a huge success? That’s what the prez told me. You know, like all those other programs that cost twice as much as they thought and met none of their goals. Successful, in the Krugman sense of the word.

  8. I hear the orthodontists and plastic surgeons are having a bad year; why not pay everyone 4500 bucks to hit their neighbor in the mouth with a tire iron?!Think of how beautiful everyone’s smiles will become!

  9. Cross posting between clunker posts…

    I just thought I would mention that my old 32″ Panasonic tube tee-vee is causing WAY too much CO2 to be generated to power it. I hear those new, big flat screens use MUCH less energy.

    Just sayin’.

  10. The cash for clunkers scam article reminds me that people are bad at math.

    To get a $4500 rebate, he 1) gave his friend $1000. 2) paid $1000 more than the car was “worth.” 3) spent 40 hours of labor ($800) 4) paid sales tax on the car TWICE ($600 for the second transaction?)

    Net benefit to consumer: $1100

    Cost to government: $4500.

    Brilliant.

  11. the approximately 42 million fuel hoggers

    Definition needed, here. Are they saying that there are still 42 million cars on the road that would have qualified for C4C?

  12. Definition needed, here. Are they saying that there are still 42 million cars on the road that would have qualified for C4C?

    Shhhhh! Don’t give them any ideas about C4C III!

  13. why not pay everyone 4500 bucks to hit their neighbor in the mouth with a tire iron?!

    He’s not my neighbor but if its Krugman……it’s on the house!

  14. Stupid slap a Bush, but I guess that’s required to prove you’re not some kinda crazed member of the mob. The difference is that bush outlined his justifications before congress voted to go to war including freedom. A very key difference in an open democracy.

  15. McCain would have been worse.

    LOL

  16. I have a cunning plan. If the goal is to get environmentally unfriendly cars off the road, why not decriminalize vandalism and car theft for cars that are deemed “polluters”? This plan would achieve much greater results in protecting the Earth from Americans and their bad, bad cars and would cost the government nothing. Problem solved!

    The other option is for the U.S. to adopt the Repo Tax proposed in June. That could be modified to only include “clunkers.”

  17. I hear the orthodontists and plastic surgeons are having a bad year; why not pay everyone 4500 bucks to hit their neighbor in the mouth with a tire iron?!

    Get your own scam Doc.

  18. People seem to relate poor mileage to pollution, but that is only true for CO2 production.

    Bad pollution only comes from cars built before the catalytic converter. And no pre-1974 autos qualified to be destroyed under this program thanks to the classic car lobby.

    This program was never about pollution, and is only barely about CO2.

  19. The advocates of Obamacare could not have found a worse way to shoot themselves in the foot than the bureaucratic disaster that is Cash for Clunkers.

  20. Normally I would play the race card here, but my deck is all gone.

  21. What about a new program that pays people to stop exhaling?

  22. A “successful” government program that only ran for a few weeks.

    Pinch me, I’m dreaming.

  23. Just FYI, but a lot of the local dealers in this neck of the woods had already bailed from C4C because they weren’t getting their money from Uncle Sam. So, they were short inventory and short funds because of the government. Why is this not surprising to me?

  24. The problem is that most people seem to think it’s been a rousing success–just the other day I heard somebody quote how many millions tons of CO2 have been kept out of the atmosphere. Some folks will swallow anything, I guess.

    On the other hand, my wife and I were in the process of buying a fancy, used sports car, and the day before we actually gave the folks the check it showed up on the revised official Klunkers list. 2004 Mazda RX-8.

    Bought it anyway–it’s cool. No regrets.

  25. I used this program, and got about $4500 for my $500 12 yr old junker Ford Explorer. I now drive around a fancy, brand new, Ford Fusion.

    Thanks taxpayers 🙂

  26. When Obama said “they are getting the oldest, dirtiest and most air polluting trucks and SUVs off the road for good,” he probably just misspoke, and didn’t actually mean to imply that Cash for Clunkers would actually get the oldest, dirties vehicles off the road.

    I honestly don’t believe the Presidential Suit was lying. I just think (in this particular instance) he’s too stupid to comprehend the scam.

  27. He’s a lawyer, man. He read the disclaimer on a low-frequency broadcast at 3:21 a.m.

  28. Anyone got a per-unit cost vs. total government cash outlay on this pathetic program? I’m afraid to look.

  29. TLG, my new math says 40,000 per unit

  30. 3 billion divided by 750,000 units. rough numbers

  31. Isn’t that $4,000?

  32. Shit, at 45 hundred bills a pop, we could outfit everyone with used Hyundais…

  33. Dangit pro lib, your killin my self esteem you bean write a’ll the thyme

    fargin new math anyway.

  34. More good news:

    White House Ups Ten Year Deficit Forecast from $7 Trillion to $9 Trillion

    I like how the article starts:
    In just over a month, the federal government’s fiscal year will draw to a close, leaving in its wake one of the biggest annual deficits in U.S. history — and a forecast of more record debt to come.”

    One of the biggest? Try THE BIGGEST EVER, by a factor of four over the previous record.

  35. Three billion divided by forty five hundred?

    Raise your hand if you think this program is 100% efficient. I’d be surprised if the transaction/processing costs don’t approach the amount of the “allowance”.

  36. If Obama wanted to get toxic waste off the streets, he’d gas all the libertarians.

  37. The genius who estimated that 750,000 cars were demolished thought thusly:
    ————————-
    The gov’t pays either $4500 or $3500 per car. The average of $4500 and $3500 is $4000. We spent $3 Billion… $3 Billion / $4000 = 750,000.
    ————————-

    Estimated $0 in admin costs, an unimaginably stupid way of calculating an average… some guy who works at Ford says something stupid and at least two journalists (Aaron Smith and Katherine Mangu-Ward) swallow the number without question? WTF?

  38. McCain would have been worse.

    McCain might have been worse.

  39. McCain would have been worse.

    McCain might have been worse.

    With the Dems controlling both houses of congress, not bloody likly.

  40. I’m sure the 2% of cars that were traded in as clunkers are, on average, in far worse, more polluting condition than the 98% of eligible cars that were not traded in. As such, Obama’s statement is technically true. The catch is that getting the 2% most dirty, polluting cars off the road will not make one bit of difference, pollution/globalwarming wise. I’m sure someone has some concrete statistic about how it’s keeping 200,000,000 tons of CO2 out of the atmosphere, but even so, that’s a marginal amount. One of those numbers that sounds big because it would be a lot of money if measured in dollars.

  41. This is just a first step, like the cash-for-guns craze of a few years back.

    Next step: Mandatory gun and car “trade-ins”.

  42. I’m sure the 2% of cars that were traded in as clunkers are, on average, in far worse, more polluting condition than the 98% of eligible cars that were not traded in. As such, Obama’s statement is technically true.

    You’re wrong. Only people who could actually afford to take on the debt represented by a new car were able to participate. Their vehicles are not, shall we say, “the worst of the worst.”

  43. I watched my local news and nearly fell out of my chair; they actually suggested that C4C might actually be bad for the economy in the longer (1-2y run). Since it was reported that most of the cars that were traded in were owned free and clear, it was actually irresponsible for the gov. to encourage people to buy cars that may cost less in gas, but with a car loan, interest on said loan, higher insurance rates for a new car AND a less than stallar local/national economy it would have been much more financially prudent to keep the ‘clunker’.

    I am convinced this will be the the paradigm of this ‘stimulus scam’ – and endless stream of mini-bubbles…appliances next, then the light bulbs, then the central H & A, then the out of date TV…ad infinitum. I’m suprised they haven’t done this scheme with old computers (there’s gold in them there boards).

    Lot of broken windows out there apparently.

  44. ‘…plastic surgeons are having a bad year; why not pay everyone 4500 bucks to hit their neighbor in the mouth with a tire iron?!’

    If I have to subsidize platic surgery, I would prefer to subsidize breast implants, even though I prefer ‘au anturale’ personally.
    Either that or ‘butt lifts’.

    Fake boobs do have a certain aesthetic appeal.

  45. a less than stallar local/national economy it would have been much more financially prudent to keep the ‘clunker’.

    Avg cash for clunker recipient makes $57K a year. It only avoids screwing the poor by being a handout to the middle class.

  46. Give me a break. First you say clunkers is wasteful government stimulus (bad! bad!). Now clunkers is not a big enough government program and thus a failure (bad again! bad again!).

    The lack of ideological consistency is telling.

  47. What the fuck is “Mid Basket Night Ball?” Sounds gay.

  48. On the other hand, my wife and I were in the process of buying a fancy, used sports car…

    2004 Mazda RX-8.

    Dude. Come on.

  49. Sug, it’s a play on “midnight basketball”, one of the gems from the Clinton erra.

  50. SugarFree,

    It’s not gay. It’s about Prince schooling Charlie Murphy’s ass.

  51. Did you see the interview with Prince about that? He said that other than the fact he can’t dunk, it happened just like Charlie Murphy said it did. Fruity picks and pancakes.

    And if you see Urky, I sent something to his gmail.

  52. I like to believe that all of Charlie Murphy’s stories are real, with maybe some minor embellishments (no dunking; waffles, not pancakes).

    One does not see the Urkobold, one encompasses his visage in mute contemplation of one’s pitiful existence.

  53. OK, I you feel your hackles raise in his ineffable presence…

  54. The Urkobold, incidentally, can dunk. Prince is strictly a perimeter guy.

  55. Doesn’t the Urkobold merely summon the basket to him?

  56. It’s hard to tell with all the glass going everywhere after he dunks.

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