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Cash for Clunkers: A visit to my local Ford dealer

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Message Dana Pico
With congressional passage of, and the anticipated signing by President Obama of the "Cash for Clunkers" bill, I decided to visit the local Ford dealer, Lehighton Ford. The most important fact to know now is that the dealers are still pretty confused about this bill, and aren't sure how it will affect things. Still, here are a few basic facts:
Benefits you will get 1. You can get $4,500 if new car is 10 MPG more fuel efficient than the older car 2. You can get $3,500 if new car is 4 MPG more fuel efficient than the older car 3. This bill sets aside $4 billion for 'Cash For Clunkers' program 4. You may trade in or buy a domestic or a foreign vehicle Who is eligible? 1. Only purchase or lease of new vehicles will qualify 2. Clunkers eligible for the program must get 18 MPG, or less 3. Must hold a valid legal title to the car seeking to trade in 4. Registered to the same owner for the full year preceding the trade-in Who is NOT eligible? 1. Cars that have not been insured for the past year 2. Cars that are older than 25 years 3. Cars not in drivable condition 4. New Car manufacturer's suggested retail price cannot exceed $45,000
Source: This site's only internet link is to a car insurance company, so it is trying to sell you something. Shockingly enough, I agree with Pandagon's Jesse Taylor, when he calls this, in effect, welfare for the middle class. Since the payment is good only if you buy a new car, it excludes pretty much everyone who can't afford to buy a new car. Naturally, Mrs Pico and I talked new cars with the salesman. If we were to do this, we'd trade in my 2000 Ford F-150 into the CfC program. I had already checked on the "official" mileage at (that's where you need to go to check on your vehicle), and my truck is credited with a combined 16 MPG rating. Mrs Pico's 2002 Mustang is credited with 20 MPG, so her car doesn't qualify. But Mrs Pico needs a new vehicle more than I do. Not only is my truck in better shape, but that little light rear-wheel drive Mustang is terrible in the winter around here. So, she's looking at a Mercury Milan Hybrid. At 41 MPG city and 36 MPG highway (no, those numbers aren't reversed; that's what happens with hybrids), the MPG difference above my F-150 is well over 10, so we'd qualify for the $4,500 payment. The solution is simple: turn in the F-150, she gets the Mercury, then trade in the Mustang, and I get another truck. Not exactly in keeping with the spirit of the legislation, but it might well be within the letter of the law. :) Still, I'd rather see this clunker of a law undone, period, even though we could benefit personally. It's welfare for the well-off, and would do the least for the people who need it the most: people who own really inefficient cars but who can't afford to trade them in and buy new. More, and this really frosts me, we just bailed out Government General Motors, and the Treasury now owns 60.8% of GM. Chrysler went bankrupt before being bought out by F(ix) I(t) A(gain) T(ony). What on God's earth are we doing spending taxpayer dollars to subsidize the purchase of new foreign cars? The commenters on Pandagon rightly pointed out that a lot of Toyotas are built in the US, and a good chunk of the domestic cars we see were built in Mexico, but so what? We bailed out GM, we (helped) bail out Chrysler, we'd have bailed out Ford if Ford hadn't gotten its act together first. But can you imagine what Americans would have said if President Obama had tried to bail out Toyota? You want to buy a Honda? Fine, it's a free country, go right ahead. But the federal government, the taxpayers, shouldn't be forced to help you do it! This legislation would, in effect, tax poor Americans who can't benefit from this law, to subsidize better off Americans -- that, in itself, is bad enough -- to help them to buy foreign cars! Sorry, but that's just not right. Perhaps President Obama can issue regulations to go along with this bill that would restrict it to the purchase of American cars. This is one place in which we ought to raise Hell to get him to do that.
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Editor of Common Sense Political Thought, mostly Republican (but not always), mostly conservative (but again, not always), always interesting.
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