Thursday, August 27, 2009

Cash For Clunkers Was A Sorta Good Idea. Unless You're A Republican.

Let's give the gubb'ment, and yes, Obama himself, some credit here. The Cash For Clunkers program ended Monday, and the results seem to indicate that it was a smashing success.
The federal government's month-long "Cash for Clunkers" program ended after having spent almost the entire $3 billion allotted and putting 690,114 new, more fuel-efficient cars on the road, the Transportation Department said Wednesday.

One auto analyst called the program a success, if only because his research showed that it was responsible for saving 39,000 jobs that otherwise would have been eliminated.

"It's really more substantial than we had thought in terms of stimulus," said David Cole, chairman of the Center for Automotive Research. "This is companies putting people back to work."

General Motors announced last week that it will reinstate 1,350 workers and add overtime for about 10,000 at three plants, as the automaker replenishes inventory sold during the government program. Honda also said it will increase U.S. production.

The other big winners in the program were Asian automakers. Eight of the top 10 new cars purchased through the program came from Honda, Hyundai, Nissan and Toyota, which claimed the top spot with its Corolla. The Corolla, Honda Civic and Ford Focus are manufactured in the United States. The only vehicles produced by U.S. automakers in the top 10 were the Ford Escape and Focus.

By contrast, all of the top 10 clunkers turned in were made by a Detroit company, with the four-wheel-drive Ford Explorer SUV, Ford F-150 pickup and the four-wheel-drive Jeep Grand Cherokee taking the top three spots.

Even though no General Motors vehicle cracked the top 10 of best-sellers, GM's sales volume was strong, finishing second behind Toyota with 17.6 percent of all new vehicles sold.

The new cars average about 9 miles per gallon better than the clunkers they replaced, the Transportation Department said.

The program, which had been a part of the original stimulus bill earlier this year but was deleted before final passage, was so popular that it required an additional $2 billion in funding after it was underway.
So, lemme see if I got this right: the program sold cars, saved jobs, helped the environment, and showed that spending during a recession isn't an ill-advised exercise in out-of-control gubb'ment largess. So, what's not the like?

Cue the haters. This time, the right-wing blog Hot Air.
The Obama administration spent three billion dollars subsidizing the destruction of 700,000 vehicles in order to boost car sales. Which auto makers actually benefited from these American tax subsidies? Reuters reports that foreign car manufacturers gained market share, while the two bailed-out American automakers lost significant portions of theirs in the big summer sale. Only Ford managed to hold its own.

Ford had the only two American-made vehicles in the top 10 models sold in Cash for Clunkers. Toyota and Honda both had three, while Nissan and Hyundai both had one each. Two of Toyota’s entries were in the top three, the Corolla and the Camry.
Why did GM and Chrysler, both owned in part by the same government that launched C4C, do so poorly? In part, they didn’t have cars to sell. Both GM and Chrysler had curtailed their production during their bankruptcies but had worked to have inventory ready for the new sales year. By launching C4C in the middle of the summer, when most dealers are already cutting prices to move inventory off the lot, the administration practically guaranteed that C4C would leave them on the sidelines. Chrysler had the worst inventory problems, but GM also had serious inventory issues. Ford, which didn’t take the bailout, had continued production and had inventory ready to sell.

Shouldn’t the owner of GM and Chrysler had known this? Didn’t anyone on the Auto Task Force — say, Ron Bloom, the auto czar with no automaking experience — bother to check whether their companies were ready to compete in this program, and whether July was a smart time to launch this even apart from that? This is what happens when government enters the private sector; it makes decisions based on politics rather than sound business sense, and it picks leaders based on cronyism and political payoffs rather than expertise and competence.
I mean, seriously, can these folks not give the President credit for anything? If the guy singlehandedly cured Cancer today, they'd complain about the lost revenue for pharmaceutical companies.


Besides, why is it such a bad thing that the top selling cars were all Japanese? Uhhh, excuse me if I'm wrong, but haven't many of the top selling cars been Japanese for some time now? Are you telling me Americans should be suddenly obligated to buy a Chevy, when the whole point of cash for clunkers is to get more fuel efficient cars, which Chevy isn't exactly famous for. Do they want the gubb'ment to mandate which brand of cars "real Americans" should buy? Wouldn't that be socialism?

Weren't many of these foreign cars made right here in the good ole' USA? Didn't they get sold by Americans at American car dealerships? Aren't there American jobs being salvaged? Isn't saving jobs and keeping the economy rolling the entire point right about now?

Again, if Obama needs more evidence that he needs to abandon "go along to get along" politricks and just spend all his political capital (ie: on healthcare) while it still exists, I don't know what more we can do for the guy.

Question: Do you consider Cash For Clunkers a success? Did you buy a car? Is there something silly about making a big point about foreign cars being sold, when in fact, those are the cars that Americans chose to buy? Should Obama read this criticism as proof that some folks just will not like him, not matter what?

'Clunkers' Generates 690,000 Sales [WashPost]

Big winners in Cash for Clunkers: Toyota, Honda, and Nissan [HotAir] - Read the comments if you want a good laugh.

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