With an ever expanding mountain of Obama administration failures, sometimes the forgotten will rear their ugly heads, to the chagrin of every day Americans. I had such an experience when I walked into the dealership and asked the salesman, "Is there such an animal as a dependable used car for around four to five grand?" To which he sardonically responded, "Not since Cash for Clunkers."
Ah yes, Cash for Clunkers, the use of confiscated taxpayer dollars that was suppose to create new car sales while at the same time remove older, earth-unfriendly vehicles from the road and save the planet. In the end, Cash for Clunkers made it much harder for middle and lower income persons to find reliable used transportation for a reasonable price. The program also made the availability of used parts scarce, and their cost increased by as much as three to four times. These unintended (maybe, maybe not) outcomes of the program were due to its mandatory crushing of vehicles submitted as "trades."
While defenders of the program point to the 690,000 cars which were sold under it, Edmunds.com, the premier auto industry analysis and research firm, rightly points out that only 125,000 of those sales were incremental. The remaining sales were all ones that would have been executed without the program. In an industry that sells on average 14 to 15 million cars a year in the United States, 125,000 is less than a 1% increase.
At a cost to taxpayers of $24,000 per vehicle sold, the increase in sales was not worth the investment. This is due to the fact that the average new car in 2009, the year of the program, sold for around $26,000. Even if one could count the $2000 per vehicle variance for the 125,000 additional vehicles sold, as "profit" to the economy, that only amounts to 250 million dollars. A drop in an ocean of an economy that generates 17 trillion dollars in economic activity per year. But even that amount is suspect as a benefit because it consisted of money forcibly removed from the economy only to be allowed to re-enter by the grace of government, a break even proposition at best.
The Cash for Clunkers program is a microcosm of myriad Obama administration policies that will have long-lasting effects far outliving his tenure as president. It cost taxpayers more than any benefit received, raised the cost of products affected by government intrusion into the free market, and placed additional burdens on middle and lower income people. This, and not hope and change, is the real theme of the Obama reign.