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Clunker Love, American Style

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Ohio Representative Betty Sutton

Ohio Representative Betty Sutton

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A couple of days ago, we mentioned that Germany's "Cash for Clunkers" program was going gangbusters and that the U.K. and China were implementing variations of their own. We also said that the U.S. congress was considering similar options, and that we'd update you soon.

Well, soon is now.

Ohio Representative Betty Sutton (Democrat, and incidentally one of The Hill's "Most Beautiful People of 2008") is introducing a bill to give American car buyers some relief on the lots. Here are the high points of Sutton's plan--which is called, perhaps too cleverly, the Consumer Assistance to Recycle and Save bill, or CARS Act:

  1. Giving $5,000 vouchers to folks buying cars assembled in America. (Cars assembled outside the U.S. would earn a $4,000 voucher.)
  2. Giving an extra-special $7,500 voucher toward the purchase of any vehicle that's both made in America and gets 100mpg.
  3. Trade-ins must be at least eight years old.
  4. Purchased vehicles must be new, and they must be more fuel-efficient than the vehicle being traded in.
  5. Car owners who just want to scrap the damn thing and take the bus (or train or ferry or magic dolphin jet or whatever) are eligible for a mass transit voucher.
  6. All vehicles turned in must be "crushed or recycled". (We assume that means truly recycled, not just sent to some federally funded chop-shop.)

No word on whether first-time auto buyers will qualify for the voucher. We suppose that depends on whether the goal is to sell cars in volume or simply to replace older ones with newer models. We're also not entirely sure whether this will help the Big Three, since that first stipulation merely involves cars assembled here, not specifically those made by American automakers. Still, it's a step, right?

[sources: DetNews, Freep]

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Comments (13)
  1. "Let's not."

    Wow..."beautiful" for DC doesn't carry much water, does it?
    Can we cut these nonsense incentives? If you want people to buy fuel efficient cars, raise the gas tax. Everything else is a waste of time.
     
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  2. "Well.."

    To Representative Sutton's credit, I think it's a pretty lousy photo. She gets a much better shot over here: http://is.gd/nTzL
    A lot of folks would agree with you about the gas tax. Politicians--being politicans--would always rather go with a perceived cut instead of a hike.
     
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  3. "So..."

    So, I don't have an old car to trade it, but could I head down to the junk yard and buy a $500 barely running car, wait for the paperwork to come through, then drive down to the new car dealer and trade in the junker for the $7500 voucher on new car? Do I have to own the junker car for a set time? (meaning, do I need to head down right now to the junk yard?)
     
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  4. "Can't say just yet"

    @Mark: There's probably some ownership stipulation spelled out in the bill. The text isn't posted on the Library of Congress website yet, but when it is, it'll be here: http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c111:H.R.1550:
     
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  5. "Shift taxes - don't raise them"

    Saying we should raise taxes always gets people up in arms. Any increase in the fuel tax should be offset by a corresponding decrease in income (or payroll) tax. I would support this approach if a politician had the courage to push it.
     
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  6. "Junkyards"

    @Mark - I would just go ahead and get your Cadillac now; that's what I'm going to do. $4K (minus $500 for the Caddy) from uncle Sam and $3K from work will make the new Prius more affordable.
     
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  7. "Junkyards"

    No, you can't run down to the junkyard and buy a wreck.
    The car turned in has to have the title registered in your name for at least two years.
    Fortunately, I have two cars that fit that bill!!
    I look forward to a voucher and a new car!
     
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  8. "Heck No!"

    I oppose any type of Vehicle Scrap Program, there are many benefits to older vehicles. I highly recommend all auto enthusiasts to look up SEMA to help stop these terrible Bills!!!
     
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  9. "If it works, good!"

    I'm not sure how the US version (or CARS Act) will work, all I'm concerned about is people's eligibility and response. I'm mainly for it because of its environmental and health related benefits (clean emissions = clean air). If it works, great!
     
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  10. "Great"

    The safety features of new cars beat those of 8 years and older cars hands down when comparing the same type, ie. honda civic to civic not BMW to aveo.
    For that reason alone I think it would be great to see safer cars that are polluting less on the street.
    Just saving one life makes it worth it. If some people feel cheated because they didn't qualify for the 5K then they can talk to the family of someone who survived, thanks to ABS, Stability Control, crumple zones, or side curtain airbags.
    For a budget person, that 5K will mean the down payment and for some cars that could be 30% down, which helps some with less then perfect credit. Changing the Gas Tax won't get a budget person anything for a down payment. They will see there expenses go up and keep drving their clunker to work.
    The caps on this bill target it to people looking to get to and from work.
    How many well to do people really have an 8 yr old car?
    I do agree that this bill needs a stipulation that the car must have been owned for at least 9 months prior otherwise every 7.9 yr old used car no matter how bad will all have a minimum sticker price of 4999.99
    I can tell you that if this becomes law, I will be at the dealer the next morning.
     
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  11. "Be very very scared...."

    I take my 8 year old Honda Civic to the dealer and trade it in on a new Civic and get my $5000. Since the kids like Civics and an 8 year old Civic in good condition probably is still worth good money, the dealer decides to sell it instead of sending it to a crusher....
    Two years later the auditor finds it, wants their $5000 back and my dealer is no longer in service. Guess who's on the hook for $5000?
    Once the vehicle is traded in, the customer who gets the $5000 no longer has any say in the disposal of the vehicle since it isn't theirs any more....
     
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  12. "How likely & how soon?"

    How likely will this bill become law? How soon might this happen? I'm delaying my purchase of a new Corolla, trying to drive my 17 year old Geo Prizm a bit longer; but I fear my old clunker might soon clank its last clunk!
     
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  13. once again congress is way out of touch of going green and the american public moves closer to socialism....they are spending 4 billion of your tax payer dollars which take 11 billion dollars out the aftermarket industry....go soccer go
     
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