This is a bit a humorous story.
Via Wall Street Journal:
White House officials and lawmakers were studying late Thursday how to keep alive the government’s cash-for-clunkers incentive program because of concerns the program’s $1 billion budget may have been exhausted after just one week.
Obama administration officials warned congressional leaders Thursday it planned to suspend the program at midnight. But the White House released a statement late Thursday saying that completed deals would be honored and the program is still under review.
A White House official said, “We are working tonight to assess the situation facing what is obviously an incredibly popular program. Auto dealers and consumers should have confidence that all valid [cash-for-clunker] transactions that have taken place to-date will be honored.”
Lawmakers are discussing with White House officials where to find funding — including possibly tapping the government’s Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP, a congressional aide said.
The clunkers program, which offers rebates of up to $4,500 to consumers who trade in old vehicles and buy new, more fuel-efficient models, began July 24 and sparked a surge in car sales.
“It was an absolute success,” said Michael J. Jackson, chief executive of AutoNation Inc., the U.S.’s largest chain of auto dealerships. “There’s a very compelling case the government should put more money into it. It’s a great stimulus to the economy.”
There much just be such a thing as a program working too well. Mike Hendrix points out that Cato is pointing out a way to use the money to buy a classic car. One little problem with that whole idea; well, a few actually. For one, it is dishonest; and I always thought that Conservatives were the upstanding ones and the Democrats were the lying, cheating criminals and thieves. Just a thought guys. Second of all, I am sure the Government, somehow or another; is going to keep track of how long you own the car, possibly by keep track of how long you have the title in your possession. So, if you get a car and turn around and off it. I am sure the Government is going to want their money back. Even if it is not spelled out anywhere; I would not want to take my chances. I figure, the less the Government knows about me and desires to speak with me; the better.
However, there is late breaking news that that people behind the scenes are trying desperately to keep the program running:
The Obama administration and Capitol Hill sources told NBC News that efforts are underway to protect the auto sales incentive program, also known as “Cash for Clunkers.”
Although key members of Congress were notified by the Secretary of Transportation Thursday that the program would run out of money at midnight, sources said “Administration and Congressional officials are working to keep it up and running.”
The program has exhausted its authorized funding of nearly $1 billion in less than a week but officials say “it is not suspended.”
The program, which had been expected to run through Sept. 30, was designed to spur U.S. auto sales through consumer incentives.
“Cash for clunkers” authorized up to $4,500 in rebates for car buyers who traded in their gas guzzlers for more fuel-efficient vehicles.
The government launched the program on July 24 and said late on Thursday that sales and pending sales had neared the limit of 250,000 vehicles.
Some of my fellow Conservatives are he-hawing about how funny that this is; and that it is a waste of money. Well, I guess I must be funny. Put me in the bracket of people that say, “Hey if it’s working, it’s working!” I am not a fan prime of pumping of the economy. But if people start buying cars again and the economy comes back to life. I am all for it. Sorry guys, I just remind unconvinced that this is waste or that it is somehow hurting the economy.
Update: Via Politico:
Congress is moving quickly to save the depleted cash-for-clunkers program, as the House passed a $2 billion spending measure Friday afternoon that would keep alive a program that has encouraged American car owners to trade in their old gas guzzlers for more fuel efficient vehicles.
Despite some criticism from Republicans who called the legislation another bailout for another industry, the bill easily passed on a 316-109 bipartisan vote.
Under the fast-track bill, Democratic leaders will use funds from a renewable energy loan guarantee included in the stimulus. The bill would extend the program through Sept. 30, 2010. Democrats have portrayed the run on cash for clunkers cash as a great success for the $1 billion program, which allows car owners to turn in older, less fuel efficient cars for a $4,500 rebate to purchase higher gas mileage vehicles.
The Senate path will be more complicated, as the upper chamber will have to work through a dispute between Michigan lawmakers who want more generous terms on gas mileage than California senators seeking higher fuel efficiency rules. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), has already posted a message on her Twitter account saying she won’t support transferring stimulus money to cash for clunkers. The $2 billion is not new money since it is being transferred from an existing renewable energy program.
Both Republicans and Democrats talked about how local dealerships across the country have been flooded with interest from car owners who want to dump their older vehicles and use the free $4,500 rebate to help purchase new, fuel efficient cars. But the government re-imbursement of car dealers has been inefficient, and lawmakers have criticized the program’s slowness in sending those rebates to auto dealers who have fronted the rebate money for car buyers.
“Cash for Clunkers may have run out of cash, but America’s consumers haven’t run out of clunkers. We’re going to work with the Obama administration to keep this wildly successful program going until it reaches its goal of helping consumers take 1 million gas guzzlers off the road,” said Rep. Ed. Markey (D-Mass.), who co-authored the legislation.
Some Republicans have already started objecting to the bill, saying it’s yet another bailout for a specific industry. But Republicans like Pete Hoekstra of Michigan and John Campbell of California have already spoken in favor of the bill in Friday afternoon floor speeches.
You see this is why the Republican Party is being painted by the left as the “Party of No.” Because something that is actually working; the Republicans are against it. Because it is supposedly a “Bail Out” of the auto industry. Oh Please, it is enabling those, who would not otherwise be able to afford a newer car. I know feeling, working a job, but not making quite enough to afford a new car. This is helping people out. Now truthfully, this program would not help me out. As I am not working; and I could not afford the car payment. But if I was; I would jump on the chance to get one of these vouchers.
Sometimes I think that some Republicans need to step back away from their ideology for a second, and see something in it’s broader terms. This inability to do this, is why the Republican Party lost in 2008 and will possibly in 2012 as well.
Others: : USA Today, New York Times, Washington Post, CNBC.com, Wake up America, The Politico, Environmental Capital, The Confluence, Scared Monkeys, DailyFinance, Wizbang, Hot Air and The Jawa Report