Friday, July 31, 2009

Cash for Clunkers: P.J. O'Rourke Told You So

“You are going to be amazed at the number of clunkers in this country if you’re getting cash for clunkers," prophesied P. J. O’Rourke when he spoke at The Commonwealth Club on June 11. "You think there are a lot of clunkers now? I mean, I mow my lawn and I can find three. They’re going to be coming out of the woodwork, from under every deck, from behind every barn.”

And yesterday, less than a week after the Cash for Clunkers program began, there were talks in Congress of suspending the program because it had become too popular, using up its allocated $1 billion much more quickly than expected. But the program is still going strong after the U.S. House of Representatives voted today to give an emergency $2 billion to the program.

The program offers people up to $4,500 in rebates if they trade in their gas-guzzler for a more efficient vehicle. However, the real goal behind this legislation was not to help the environment, but rather to boost the struggling auto industry. Whether the program’s allocated budget is used up in 6 days or 6 months, the goal is still reached. So it seems the focus should be less on suspending a flawed program than figuring out how to fund a successful one.

Maybe Congress could invite O’Rourke to join the discussion, since he seems to enjoy talking about the number of clunkers out there. “I’ll bet people will be smuggling clunkers across the Mexican border,” O’Rourke told The Club, “and I know they have a lot of clunkers in Mexico.”

--By Camille Koué


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