Cash-For-Clunkers Causes Confusion, Cantankery

May 20, 2009

Recently, we mentioned that the cash-for-clunkers legislation everyone's been giddy about would soon become a reality--and we had every reason to believe it. At the time, the measure was included as part of a larger, more divisive package on energy reform, but legislators in both the House and the Senate seemed determined to extricate it and run it through as an independent bill. Problem solved, right?

Wrong. Yesterday came news that cash-for-clunkers has been included in the bigass, fairly contentious American Clean Energy and Security Act--which is exactly what House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) were hoping to avoid. However, Reid did say that pulling out the bill would be tricky in terms of protocol, so maybe they haven't found the right loophole yet.

On the upside, now that cash-for-clunkers has emerged from committee (or wherever it was hidden) and been made official, we know a few more details. If the legislation were to pass as is...

  • Car buyers could get a $3,500 cash voucher by trading in any vehicle earning less than 19mpgs and purchasing one that gets at least 22mpgs. If the new car gets 10+mpg better than the old one, the buyer's voucher would earn $4,500.
  • Buyers of light trucks and SUVs would get a similar deal, but the low-end for new vehicles is set at 18mpgs. Same thing for fans of larger trucks and vans, but their new rides would have to earn 15mpgs or more.
  • Anyone with a work truck from before 2002 could trade for a similar or smaller vehicle in exchange for a $3,500 voucher.

As excited as many people are about all this (e.g. the dwindling membership of the National Automobile Dealers Association), cash-for-clunkers has its detractors (e.g. the folks who depend on recycled parts like the United Recyclers Group). And of course, it's inspired some friendly debate at TCC--most recently here. If you'd like to weigh in, feel free to drop us an email or post a comment below.

[source: Freep]

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