The Real Clunker

August 3, 2009

The “Cash for Clunkers”  program has brought thousands of car buyers back to showrooms across America:  give us your tired, your poor, your “clunkers” and we’ll give you up to $4,500 for a brand new, more fuel-efficient car.   The program was funded for 1 billion dollars or approximately 250,000 cars–and was slated to run until November 1st, or until it ran out of money.  Well, after one week, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is warning the program may already be out of money.  Dealers are worried: they get reimbursed from the government after the sale, so they’re wondering if those checks will indeed be in the mail.    Some lawmakers are proposing up to 2 billion dollars more for the program, but others say, “not so fast!” so there’s no guarantee there will be any additional money.  It’s a classic case of “if you snooze, you lose” I suppose.   Anyone who didn’t take advantage of the program in the first week may not get the opportunity now.  

The same thing happened when the government started handing out gift cards for digital converter boxes for the DTV transition.  People got their $40 cards, but many couldn’t find the boxes readily available, and the cards expired before they could use them.  Those people were not allowed to reapply for cards because the rules stated each household could only get one set. The government then ran out of money and suspended the program for awhile, then after realizing their botched system meant many Americans wouldn’t be able to watch TV, they moved the DTV deadline back 6 months, at tremendous cost to TV stations all across the country. 

These two examples have me very concerned about the rush to come up with a health care plan for America.  I’m not disagreeing that there is a need for a plan.  But why are politicians in such a hurry to get SOMETHING, ANYTHING passed that due diligence is lost?  This is too important to fly by the seat of our pants with.  We need to know that the plan in place will work, that the benefits will outweigh the cost, because let’s face it, American taxpayers just can’t afford to keep throwing money at programs that can’t be sustained. 

Lawmakers, please take the time you need to figure out what will work, and how much we can afford to pay for it because if we keep running out of cash, all we’re left with is clunkers.



  1. I am complaining about the car dealer i went to to do the cash for clunkers! Well we did all the paperwork, got a loan approved and everything even before the program started, so when it did start all paper work was done. We singed loan papers, papers for program, they have title and registration for our clunker so they could send in to where ever it needed to go, BUT THEN!!!! They said we couldn’t have the new car intil they got their money from goverment!!! What kind of s@#% is that!!! Very unhappy, We are paying interest on a car we don’t have yet!! Called other dealers in town and all their customers have their cars!!! Why not us!!! Isn’t there a law or something against this?! Find an answer and please email me back. Thank you VERY UNHAPPY CAR BUYER

  2. Lisa…please email me the name of the dealership at cpeterson@wtol.com and I will look into it for you. I don’t think that’s the way it’s supposed to work.

  3. I totally agree! I am sure President Obama means well; but to hurry up and do this health care plan, is scary. We should take our time and resolve to do it right. If not, I am afraid that there will be more hurt from the new plan than helped.

  4. You should do an expose on the Obama health care plan after you ACTUALLY read it yourself. From what I hear, it will deny services to seriously ill elderly people, thus we would have intentional extermination of those who need services worse than anyone.

    Then you can cover the story of millions of protesters marching in Washington about it.

  5. Yes, the government puts these things in place and are hit with unexpected results. Such as the converter box program, now we have digital TV signals but a lot of people still can’t get the programing due to reduced signals. Got the box all hooked up and the first day it was fine,got a lot of channels very clearly, now I get nothing!!! I’m especially worried about wat the health care plan will mean for us.

  6. I wasn’t aware of any money problems for dealers… so that would not be good I agree, however, I like the cash for clunkers program even though with my 12 year-old Honda sedan getting 35mph I wouldn’t qualify (I wouldn’t want to trash it anyway though… why trash a still well-running car?) I just saw the stat’s on the cars that are being traded in and a lot of gasoline savings will be had by the new car owners, pollution will be reduced, and dealerships which otherwise wouldn’t sell the car are helped — so seems like a lot of positives to me.

  7. I think it’s a shame that the government is requiring that the “clunkers” have to be destroyed. Most of the vehicles are in better shape than what the poorer people of this country are driving. It’s a waste to scrap them.

  8. I agree with Joanne, my car qualifys a a junker, but I don’t think I could ever think of my “white angel” in the scrap yard. she looks like new and very dependable.

  9. You should realize that you are probably on Obama’s watch list for speaking out against Anything he is doing! So, as Joe might say, watch your back!
    and…anytime anyone tries to sell me anything and they say, “Buy it NOW! This deal won’t last! We can’t do this all day you know!” etc. I certainly am not going to buy then, or ever from them. I am starting to think that ALL of our “Representatives” in DC were one-time snake oil salespeople!
    John McKiddy
    West Carrollton, Ohio

  10. Chrys,

    Health care is not being “rushed” through. The plans under consideration have been scored by CBO and private groups. Part of the road to economic recovery is getting health costs under control. We also need to find a way to get the 47 million uninsured covered. This is an urgent problem. The only roadblock is the insurance lobby who doesn’t want anything to change and just wants to delay the process in the hopes of killing it.

    The clunkers program is working pretty well overall in that it is getting old cars off the road and replacing them with more efficient models. Yes there have been problems but the overall goal of the program is being met.

  11. Michael-

    Well personally, When I am buying something I am not looking for “an overall goal” being met, I am looking at what can get me the best bang for my buck. Alot of times that means waiting and searching all options. Rushing this healthcare bill will does not benefit anyone in America. Have you read the bill? I have read a synopsis of the bill and it is not anything I would support. In fact, I will refuse to vote for anyone who supports it. Who is with me?

  12. I am with you Jenn. I feel the same way!

  13. I am with ya. The Clintons tried for 8 years to come up with a healthcare plan. What makes Obama think that he can come up with a good plan for EVERYONE in 9-12 months. Haste makes waste!!

    PS dont want to have to wait in the ER for 10 hours either or get cancer surgery 3 months later, i.e. Canada.

  14. Of all the top ten autos being purchased with this cash for clunkers program most are foreign. 80% of our tax dollars going overseas is hardly helping the US economy. FDR pulled the United States out of the Great Depression by producing jobs for Americans. If a man has a job he can save his money and buy his own auto (hopefully an American made auto) creating more jobs for his fellow American. Only then would he be able to stand proud and claim he helped put America on it’s feet.

    If your purchase doesn’t create a job here then you are yet the problem. You are supporting substandard wages and working condition. That is unacceptable.

    Each new auto needlessly built only consumes more iron, plastic and energy, far more than if you could have driven your so called clunker another 2 years or so.

    Lower loan rates and less profits for banks, oil companies along with far more reasonable insurance and drastically cut health care cost will help put this country on top again. The working class can ill afford the carnage they are suffering at the hands of the greedy. Hey, Jesus cast out the ‘Money Changers”, time for our representatives to do the same, that’s an answer to WWJD (What would Jesus do) Congress, do your job! Just follow Jesus.

  15. Jenn,
    This has been debated and hashed over since the beginning of the 2008 presidential campaign. Medical groups like the AMA and Mayo Clinic have had discussions and meetings on this for years. We can all read the things being proposed. Nobody likes everything being proposed, but most everyone agrees it is a step forward. We’ve been trying for 100 years to meet the dual goals of universal access and value for our money. Delay now will only serve to sink us further into the sinkhole we’re already in. It’s time to move forward.

  16. Michael,
    It is time to move forward, It in NOT time to RUSH forward. Everyone agrees that we need to improve our system of medical care. However let me remind you that the United States still has the best medical system in the world dispite its flaws. It is time to be level headed.

  17. We didn’t get to the moon by waiting until everything was perfect. Nothing is ever perfect. We got there by putting something on the launching pad, watching if it failed or not, and then fixing whatever was broken for the next try.

    Universal Health Care is like that. It won’t fly to the moon on the first shot, but we CAN fix what’s broken after the first launch. We get there by trial and error… just like all progress is made. C’mon people, stop grousing at the flaws and start cheering for the possibilities. We CAN do this, but we have to work together.

  18. Yes we have a good health care plan IF you have a health care plan! All I hear is we can’t do…. and a lot of republicians talking point (most of them false).

  19. Robert, I am on Cobra and when my cobra is done, I will more tham likely be uninsurred because I have been turned down by at least three insurrence companies. Still, I think it is not prudent to rush into a plan. Yes we need to improve our system, it cannot be done overnight nor should it be. Both republicans and democrats have an issue with rushing into a healthcare plan.

  20. My kids were on Medicaid and let me tell you it was not easy trying to find them a decent doctor. The only reason we got into the pediatrician that we did was because we circumvented the system by hooking up with someone who knew someone who got a very good pediatrician to accept them. (Dr. Tara Shamy, Franklin Park Pediatrics) All of the other pediatricians i tried wanted to have at least 2 days before you got in for a sick appt! A SICK APPT! Same thing when I was reffered to a specialist for my daughter eczema. When I called all the Pediatric Doctors they said they were not accepting new patients! What am I suppost to do? I’ll tell you what I did, I got a job that had health insurance benefits so my children could get the best. Thats what you do. Thats what America was founded on. Hard work and sacrifice. People who wanted the government to take care of them stayed in France, England, Spain, ect. America was supposed to be different. If you want health insurance, get off your lazy hiney and go get a job that has benefits, dont rely on the government to take care of you, because we know how well they take care of people! (foster care system, food stamp system, anthing the government has EVER touched)

  21. I think cash for clunkers being extened to imported cars stinks and is wrong!My tax dollers are being spent on this. It does NOTHING for the american worker!People that buy those cars are stabing every american in the back.It`s their kids and grand kids that are going to pay for this.What are they thinking?

  22. Jenn,
    Do you honestly think there are enough jobs to go around for every American, with full health benefits? Have you noticed the unemployment rate recently? The fact that health benefits are tied to your job is not what “America was founded on.” Rather it is a historical fluke born of WW2 when there was a wage freeze and employers offered health benefits to lure workers.

    Health insurance is rapidly becoming unaffordable for American businesses and is hurting their competitiveness globally. Health expenses are currently 17% of GDP and quickly rising and hindering the economy’s ability to recover and grow again. For profit health insurance is not efficient at delivering health care to the whole population, something every major country in the world offers its citizens at a fraction of the cost we spend. All logic and reason supports major reform organized by the government. An estimated 20,000 people die every year because they can’t access health care. The status quo is just immoral, bottom line.

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