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Clunkers bill no clunker

Editorial for Aug. 13, 2009

Clunkers bill no clunker

Those who like to contend the federal government can't do anything right need to take a look at the recently passed "Cash for Clunkers" program.

This product of Washington, D.C., has been an unqualified success for a variety of reasons. We hear about "win-win" situations every now and then, but this program appears to be a "win-win-win-win-win." In fact, the only losers seem to be the people who blast the federal government for its failings at every turn. (Hey, didn't the federal government organize and fund manned missions to the moon? Didn't the federal government engineer and fund the interstate highway system? Didn't the federal government rally the nation to defeat Nazism and win World War II? Didn't the federal government create the Social Security system? Don't tell us our government can't get anything right.)

Anyway, back to the "Clunkers" legislation. Here's the deal: This innovative program offers car buyers as much as $4,500 to trade in their older gas-guzzling vehicles for more modern and more fuel-efficient new models.

Americans are responding big time to this deal. In fact, the response has been so positive that an initial $1 billion in funding quickly ran out, forcing Congress to go back and authorize another $2 billion to keep the program going.

Car dealerships across the country are reporting a substantial increase in sales. That means cars are being sold, which in turn means that new cars will need to be ordered, which means factory workers and parts suppliers and vehicle transportation workers will need to be hired. This is a very positive upward spiral.

According to news reports, about 200,000 Americans so far have taken advantage of the incentives and purchased new cars. With most of the trade-ins being inefficient SUVs or trucks, government officials have estimated that the owners of the new vehicles will see an increase in their fuel efficiency by an average of 60 percent.

Who wins with this program? 1) The economy. More sales will lead to more manufacturing jobs. 2) The environment. More efficient vehicles means fewer pollutants in our air and less carbon emissions that contribute to global warming. 3) The American consumer. Increased fuel-efficiency means people will need to spend less on gasoline, giving them more money for other items they need. 4) Car dealers. This program is bringing in people who have been holding off on purchasing a car due to the uncertain economy. With many car dealerships having closed in the past year or so, this program is a real lifeline to car sales lots across the nation. 5) Energy independence. If our vehicles require less fuel to operate, that means we will need to import less foreign oil, putting us further along the path to energy independence.

Win, win, win, win, win.

Chalk up one for the federal government!



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