pageok
pageok
pageok
Clunk in the Dark:

The Associated Press reports:

The Obama administration is refusing to quickly release government records on its "cash-for-clunkers" rebate program that would substantiate — or undercut — White House claims of the program's success, even as the president presses the Senate for a quick vote for $2 billion to boost car sales. . . .

The Associated Press has sought release of the data since last week. Rae Tyson, spokesman for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, said the agency will provide the data requested as soon as possible.

DOT officials already have received electronic details from car dealers of each trade-in transaction. The agency receives regular analyses of the sales data, producing helpful talking points for [Transportation Secretary] LaHood, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs and other officials to use when urging more funding. . . .

LaHood, the program's chief salesman, has pitched the rebates as good for America, good for car buyers, good for the environment, good for the economy. But it's difficult to determine whether the administration is overselling the claim without seeing what's being sold, what's being traded in and where the cars are being sold.

LaHood, for example, promotes the fact that the Ford Focus so far is at the top of the list of new cars purchased under the program. But the limited information released so far shows most buyers are not picking Ford, Chrysler or General Motors vehicles, and six of the top 10 vehicles purchased are Honda, Toyota and Hyundai.

Meanwhile, James Hamilton compares "cash-for-clunkers" to the Agricultural Adjustment Act.

UPDATE: Andrew Sullivan also likens "cash-for-clunkers" to FDR-style policies, and thinks this is a reason the program should appeal to limited-government types. Matt Welch responds. My take: There are many reasons to doubt the GOP's commitment to a limited-government agenda, but opposition to cash-for-clunkers ain't one of them.

ruuffles (mail) (www):
Oh hey, it's cash for spelunkers.
8.4.2009 10:48pm
GatoRat:
I'll wager, there's also a whole lot of fraud going on. One is for the seller to strip the car bare, trade it in and sell the stripped stuff. I'll even wager, dealers are swapping out good engines for bad ones.
8.4.2009 10:58pm
zippypinhead:
I suppose it would be politically incorrect to point out that the majority of U.S.-sold Hondas and Toyotas, and even some Hyundais, are made in such exotic foreign lands as Kentucky, Ohio, Alabama, and the People's Democratik Republik of Kalifornia?

Oh wait, Sam doesn't own those companies... or even a majority of most of those states (Kalifornia being the possible exception). never mind...
8.4.2009 11:08pm
roy:
I'll try to withhold judgment on whether this makes environmental sense. The math involved is beyond me. But the claim of economic benefit is, or should be, laughable. The "clunkers" are drivable cars, often with lot of usable parts. They are not being resold or parted out as usual; recycling options have been intentionally limited, and some valuable mechanical parts are destroyed at the dealerships.

Of course there's a legitimate concern of fraud, but it's hard to imagine such a heavy handed retelling of the parable of the broken window.
8.4.2009 11:10pm
Dav (mail):
No one seems to be asking if these are people that wouldn't have bought a car otherwise or if these are people that would have bought a car sometime since we started talking about this months ago and have just been waiting for the program to start.

Dave
8.4.2009 11:20pm
raven397 (mail):
I seem to recall reading in the automotive press that incentive programs [which cash for clunkers fall into] don't really improve sales overall, they just bring future sales into the current timespan. Once the incentives end, sales plummet.
the wastefulness of not parting out the trade-in cars is reminiscent of the slaughter of piglets and the plowing under of crops under the sainted FDR.
8.4.2009 11:31pm
MartyA:
The AP should stand down IMMEDIATELY!! It is not their job to do or say anything that might disclose the mendacity of the Kenyan's administration! He, The One (PBUH), must be allowed to lie about the stuff that makes him look good and conceal the stuff that makes him look bad!
I.m thinking that Biden's son, Dodd's friends and relatives, Conyer's wife, Murtha's nephew, Kwamee Kilpatrick and his mother and LOTS of other democrat Congressmen, their family members and friends have already "acquired" clunkered vehicles and are moving them with speed and alacrity across our southern border to be sold at a nice profit to our Mexican neighbors.
Obama, as always, hides facts and lies about what theywould have been should some one have told the truth. I LOVE the way the anti-American leftists are getting all aroused over criticism and blaming it, not on Obama's criminality, but on non-left wing extremism.
8.4.2009 11:49pm
Arturito:
The larger point is that the AP Goblins are annoyed because He Whose Middle Name Must Not Be Named is not responsive. How many horcruxes does he have left?
8.5.2009 12:37am
Sara:
these are people that would have bought a car sometime since we started talking about this months ago and have just been waiting for the program to start.

Edmonds.com CEO says YES:


'...I love a good sales surge as much as anyone. But it's not that simple. First, it's not clear that cash for clunkers actually increased sales. Edmunds.com noted recently that over 100,000 buyers put their purchases on hold waiting for the program to launch. Once consumers could start cashing in on July 24, showrooms were flooded and government servers were overwhelmed as the backlog of buyers finalized their purchases.

Secondly, on July 27, Edmunds.com published an analysis showing that in any given month 60,000 to 70,000 "clunker-like" deals happen with no government program in place.

This sales frenzy was inevitable. We have crammed three to four months of normal activity into just a few days.

What everyone fails to realize is that once this backlog is met, interest in the program will fade...'

8.5.2009 1:18am
eapen (mail) (www):
I have a hard time imputing motive to the agency for not releasing data yet. I have enough problems asking large private companies for hard data on what their business was like last week or last month, even when they're willing to freely release the data. Why do you think the Department of Transportation is any faster? It is plausible to me that while they have enough information to comment about trends, they don't have enough detailed information in a publishable format to release.
8.5.2009 1:24am
skullduggery:
@MartyA
As a liberal and Obama supporter, I fully support the AP and other media outlets fulling investigating programs like CARS. All of my liberal friends share my desire for an aggressive and honest media: if CARS is a bad program, we want to know. Please drop this strawman.
8.5.2009 1:37am
Steve:
Ah, yet another thread where all the people who think the broken window fallacy is the pinnacle of economic thought get to learn what a stimulus is.
8.5.2009 2:21am
Owen H. (mail):
Since when does, "Hasn't released yet" equal, "Refuses to release"?
8.5.2009 7:07am
Bob Sykes (mail):
The clunker program actually has its roots several decades ago in the environmental movement. The original intent was to remove older vehicles that produced high pollutant emissions, especially those without catalytic converters. The claim was, If we can get 10% of the cars off the road, we will reduce pollutant generation by 90%. [It's always 10%/90% in everything.]

The idea of improving overall fleet efficiency is a new add-on. There never was any intended stimulus, but that seems to be happening, too.

By the way, the idea that our dependence on foreign oil is a net negative is absurd. That imported oil is the basis of our economic productivity. And the value added of that productivity far exceeds the price of the imported oil.
8.5.2009 7:42am
Strick:
Another vote for not reading too much into the lack of data on the program, though for a slightly different reason. Frankly, I think they couldn't release the data if they wanted to. Think about it, the response was so great in the first week their computers crashed. There's no way I'm going to believe they're organized well enough to deal with the reporting end of program either, not with volume of transactions we're hearing about. No one plans enough for reporting.

So in this case, and a couple of others I can think of, I don't see any thing sinister in the silence. I see incompetence.

Shocking as it is, people running a government program are incompetent.
8.5.2009 8:39am
rick.felt:
Ah, yet another thread where all the people who think the broken window fallacy is the pinnacle of economic thought get to learn what a stimulus is.

It needn't be an either/or proposition. There's a good deal of unnecessary window-breaking going on here, independent of the merits of encouraging new-car purchases. The "stimulus" portion of Cash for Clunkers might be a good idea. But there's no reason that the stimulus/subsidy must be tied to the destruction (in whole or in part) of the value of a clunker.

Putting aside the merits of Keynesian stimulus generally, some of those who favor Keynesian approaches seem to think that all stimuli are created equal, and that it doesn't matter what the government spends money on, as long as it's spending the money. (Jonathan Chait is one of the worst offenders.)

If there is idle capital and idle labor and we want to stimulate the economy, the government should be spending money on something useful. Sure, paying people to dig and refill holes might get them to start spending money. But at the end of the day you haven't created anything of value. Had you paid those people to build something that has value, they'd spend money, but we would also be richer by the value of the good created.
8.5.2009 8:48am
Soronel Haetir (mail):
Bob Sykes,

I don't think the foreign oil debate is on purely financial grounds. What is the non-monetary cost of supporting governments that aren't particularly friendly to us?

Even if it were somewhat more expensive to do business without providing that support, would it be worth it? A pure cost of goods model does not examine such factors.
8.5.2009 9:27am
Prof. S. (mail):

I'll wager, there's also a whole lot of fraud going on. One is for the seller to strip the car bare, trade it in and sell the stripped stuff. I'll even wager, dealers are swapping out good engines for bad ones.



Oh noes! God forbid people actually get value out of the automobile before it is needlessly destroyed. Much better to destroy the good engine then to destroy the bad one.


While government fraud is generally bad, the government has managed to use such screwed up economic thinking that government fraud is actually a good thing and makes everyone else better off.
8.5.2009 9:36am
Art Eclectic:
"The claim was, If we can get 10% of the cars off the road, we will reduce pollutant generation by 90%."


The flaw in the Clunkers plan is that the oldest vehicles that most need to come off the road are generally owned by the poorest among us. Those people are not going to buy a new Camry, they can't afford the payments. If you want the real clunkers off the road, you have to go out and replace all those $500 and $1000 beaters at little to no cost to their owners.
8.5.2009 9:48am
Cato The Elder (mail) (www):
The only real economic argument that can justify this is the notion of "animal spirits" that Keynes brought up in the General Theory. I mostly don't accept that argument, but it's more plausible to me, especially as I learn more about the complexities of human nature, than it might be to an ordinary libertarian.
8.5.2009 10:19am
DanWeberAnonymous:
They are not being resold or parted out as usual; recycling options have been intentionally limited, and some valuable mechanical parts are destroyed at the dealerships.

The engine and the drivetrain cannot be resold. The rest of the car can, so you can sell off the doors, tires, lamps, seats, mats, radio, fenders, electronics, and more.
8.5.2009 11:21am
DCP:


I seem to recall reading in the automotive press that incentive programs [which cash for clunkers fall into] don't really improve sales overall, they just bring future sales into the current timespan. Once the incentives end, sales plummet.


True, but the auto industry was pretty screwed already. They got caught with their pants down in this economic downturn and they were stuck with huge amounts of new vehicles that they couldn't sell (or lease to rental car companies which I believe is a standard last resort for those leftover new cars). They also had 2010 models designed, engineered, speced and ready to run through production and once those new models start hitting the floors the millions of unsold 2009 versions are really worthless.

Whatever artificial results the program has on 2009 sales can at least be accounted for in 2010 plans and beyond. If you're going to have to adjust your sales forecasts, it's better to do it with a product that hasn't been built yet. Once a car has been manufactured however, you have very little options: you can either sell the car at the expected price or eat the loss.
8.5.2009 11:26am
fishbane (mail):
No one seems to be asking if these are people that wouldn't have bought a car otherwise or if these are people that would have bought a car sometime since we started talking about this months ago and have just been waiting for the program to start.

No doubt some sales were time-shifted to take advantage of the program. But why are so many people willing to ignore econ 101 demand curves in this particular case? The economic reasoning employed on this topic is as weak as drug war economics.

[# buyers at price point X] != [# buyers at price point (X -$3500)]
8.5.2009 11:32am
ShelbyC:

Ah, yet another thread where all the people who think the broken window fallacy is the pinnacle of economic thought get to learn what a stimulus is.


Appearantly it's the govt breaking windows.

Maybe govt borrowing and spending will stimulate the economy, maybe not. I'm still not sure if there's any empherical evidence that it does. But it should be clear that the legislative process is not the vehicle to eficiently determine how that money gets spent.
8.5.2009 11:46am
Sacastration (mail):
"Ah, yet another thread where all the people who think the broken window fallacy is the pinnacle of economic thought get to learn what a stimulus is."

oh we already know, a wise wise wise hopey change told us what the pinnacle of economic thought is:

Then there's the argument, well, this is full of pet projects. When was the last time that we saw a bill of this magnitude move out with no earmarks in it? Not one. (Applause.) And when you start asking, well, what is it exactly that is such a problem that you're seeing, where's all this waste and spending? Well, you know, you want to replace the federal fleet with hybrid cars. Well, why wouldn't we want to do that? (Laughter.) That creates jobs for people who make those cars. It saves the federal government energy. It saves the taxpayers energy. (Applause.)

So then you get the argument, well, this is not a stimulus bill, this is a spending bill. What do you think a stimulus is? (Laughter and applause.) That's the whole point. No, seriously. (Laughter.) That's the point. (Applause.)

Brilliant!!! F'n genius.
8.5.2009 11:53am
JoeSixpack (mail):
I agree with Art Eclectic but see the bigger problem being that those people WILL go out and buy new cars that they cannot afford, just like people went out and bought houses they couldn't afford. Many will then default on their payments and have their cars repossessed, the value of used cars will crash and damage the economy, and the Left will rush out and declare it all to be yet another failure of the free market system.
8.5.2009 11:59am
Guest12345:
Owen H.:

Since when does, "Hasn't released yet" equal, "Refuses to release"?


Actually, in the OP the word "quickly" is between "to" and "release". So it more or less means exactly what you've paraphrased. And the point that people want to make is that administration officials are touting how wonderful this program is while hiding the actual data. That is, more or less, exactly how Madoff managed to dissolve fifty billion dollars. As someone who doesn't get to vote himself a raise anytime I'm not in the top 2% of earners in the country, I sort of think I should be able to see what they are doing with the debt that is being accrued in my and my children's name.
8.5.2009 12:10pm
Floridan:
DCP: " . . . they just bring future sales into the current timespan."

Just? How many business owners would say, "no, we're not interested in making the sale now; we'd rather wait a month, or a year, and sell then."?
8.5.2009 12:11pm
RaleighEsq (mail):
Heaven forbid the Administration doesn't respond to a public records request at the drop of a hat when it's engaged in countless other pressing matters. Seriously...grow a little patience, AP. Indeed, to paraphrase Judge Kozinski, perhaps the Associated Press should be "advised to chill." Mattel, Inc. v. MCA Records, Inc., 296 F.3d 894, 908 (9th Cir. 2002) (Kozinski, J.).
8.5.2009 12:14pm
JK:

They are not being resold or parted out as usual; recycling options have been intentionally limited, and some valuable mechanical parts are destroyed at the dealerships.

The engine and the drivetrain cannot be resold. The rest of the car can, so you can sell off the doors, tires, lamps, seats, mats, radio, fenders, electronics, and more.

Wow, thanks for adding some facts to the ramblings Dan Weber. I wish people would look these things up first, I understand we all get things wrong from time to time. VC has long skipped back and forth between a respectable outlet where you could basically believe what was being said, and just another partisan hack site.

Fishbane, made the point that I was going to, there will be a combination of time-shifting and otherwise unrealized sales. You can argue about the proportions, but there's going to be both.
8.5.2009 12:17pm
The Unbeliever:
Ah, yet another thread where all the people who think the broken window fallacy is the pinnacle of economic thought get to learn what a stimulus is.
It's not the pinnacle, it's a founding stone. And we would gladly stop bringing it up if certain legislators ever managed to stop tripping over said stone when running to throw together economic policies.

As for the original article--I'm tempted to make the well-deserved "hooray for CHANGE and increased government transparency" joke, but the simple fact of the matter is government agencies suck at releasing instant or real-time analysis like this. The only time they can get it right is with a mature, sheduled bureaucratic process that reports on data from several time periods ago (like GDP numbers, unemployment/jobs numbers, etc). If the DOT says they'll release the numbers evetually, I'll give them the benefit of the doubt... though I would be surprised if they managed to release the numbers before the debate on extending the program wraps up.

Bureaucracy 1, Obama campaign promises -2
8.5.2009 12:19pm
SuperSkeptic (mail):
Sure, paying people to dig and refill holes might get them to start spending money. But at the end of the day you haven't created anything of value. Had you paid those people to build something that has value, they'd spend money, but we would also be richer by the value of the good created.

Thank you.

As for the AAA comparison, and irrespective of its merits, everytime I hear anything about the AAA, I think of Wickard...then vomit in my mouth a lil bit.
8.5.2009 12:28pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):

Heaven forbid the Administration doesn't respond to a public records request at the drop of a hat when it's engaged in countless other pressing matters. Seriously...grow a little patience, AP.



How about they respond to it before spending another two billion dollars for the program? Or is that too "unreasonable" of a request?
8.5.2009 12:35pm
DanWeberAnonymous:
Just? How many business owners would say, "no, we're not interested in making the sale now; we'd rather wait a month, or a year, and sell then."?

They would love to bring forward sales, but at what cost?

Over the past 20 years GM has done this whole game a lot: have a huge sale, which gets numbers up, and then have six months or more of depressed sales afterwards. Red tag, toe tag, employee pricing, free financing, free financing to anyone, and worse: they all worked the same. They paid a lot of money to move the sales from the future to the present, at a cost a lot bigger than the discount value. A bunch of short-term thinking that led to lots of long-term problems.

I've no doubt that CARS caused some sales to happen that wouldn't've happened otherwise; the question is if they were worth the cost of the discount.
8.5.2009 12:52pm
tarpon (mail):
Can't wait for the cash for geezers program.
8.5.2009 12:52pm
NickM (mail) (www):
zippy - the only plant in the DPRKalifornia is the NUMMI plant, which may close within a month or two (GM has already pulled out, and Toyota is considering it).

JK - there is a third component to the sales under this program - the substitution effect (primarily inducing purchasing new cars rather than used cars).

Nick
8.5.2009 12:52pm
SuperSkeptic (mail):
LaHood, for example, promotes the fact that the Ford Focus so far is at the top of the list of new cars purchased under the program. But the limited information released so far shows most buyers are not picking Ford, Chrysler or General Motors vehicles, and six of the top 10 vehicles purchased are Honda, Toyota and Hyundai.

And another thing, all this market manipulation from the top-down is like the government running around with a tennis racket trying to keep the Ford*, Chrysler and GM balls from falling to the ground. Every swing to tap a ball higher and keep it from hitting the ground costs us billions, but gravity/market will out eventually....the balls that will drop will drop. We can no more avoid it than gravity.

*Ford not so much, but really, look at their vehicles...the Ford Escape? I do wonder if they have a clue, I mean what's-his-face got them a nice big loan right before ish hit the fan, but still. Blue Oval certification doesn't mean that much to me, but what do I know, I had a toyota and am just a little ole' consumer.
8.5.2009 12:54pm
JK:

JK - there is a third component to the sales under this program - the substitution effect (primarily inducing purchasing new cars rather than used cars).

That is a good point. A pretty questionable distortion from either a stimulus or environmental perspective.
8.5.2009 1:23pm
Larrya (mail) (www):
No one seems to be asking if these are people that wouldn't have bought a car otherwise or if these are people that would have bought a car sometime since we started talking about this months ago and have just been waiting for the program to start.
I'd like to know how many figure they better get a new car before the Obamobiles start rolling out.
The flaw in the Clunkers plan is that the oldest vehicles that most need to come off the road are generally owned by the poorest among us.
And are older than the program allows. My '99 Jeep, for instance, is still in good shape and gets better mileage compared to a lot of older sedans that don't qualify.
I'll even wager, dealers are swapping out good engines for bad ones.
I think that would cost more in shop time than you could get for an old engine.
8.5.2009 1:24pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):

And another thing, all this market manipulation from the top-down is like the government running around with a tennis racket trying to keep the Ford*, Chrysler and GM balls from falling to the ground. Every swing to tap a ball higher and keep it from hitting the ground costs us billions, but gravity/market will out eventually....the balls that will drop will drop. We can no more avoid it than gravity.



Someone can correct me if I'm wrong but I seem to recall that during the GM buyout/bailout there was a story about how a large part of the problem was that there were far more cars being produced than there was a demand for buying and some analysts were saying that the "Big Three" may need to be reduced to the "Big Two" or "Big Two and a Half."

IANACG but if the federal government artificially and temporarily inflates the "demand" for new cars (that's assuming that many of these are new sales rather than just sales whose timing changed in order to take advantage of the taxpayer-funded subsidy) is the industry going to respond by (a) using this to reduce their inventory and scaling back production to a more realistic and sustainable number or (b) keep over-producing and when they get in trouble again, expect another bailout?
8.5.2009 1:32pm
Borealis (mail):
The older idea of buying up old cars to get them off the road because of pollution made more sense than cash for clunkers.

The older idea was to get rid of cars made before 1975 that didn't have catalytic converters. Those cars emitted pollution that in some cases were orders of magnitude greater than cars with catalytic converters. Cities that had air pollution problems often figured out that buying up older cars was cheaper than any other way of reducing pollution.
8.5.2009 1:43pm
Whadonna More:
If CARS is meant to help the Big 3 with inventories, then why isn't it limited to, or biased toward, Big 3 cars?

If CARS is meant to ramp up fuel efficiency or reduce dependence on foreign oil why is a 4 MPG increase worth $3500 and a 40 MPG increase worth $1K more?

If CARS is meant to clean the air, why are 25+ year old non-catalyst terribly inefficient vehicles ineligible, while late model, clean running minivans that get 18 MPG eligible?

As far as I can figure, this is part of a larger scheme of bailing out people who did stupid things in the last decade or so. More foreclosure reform/mortgage meddling is next, to be followed by some kind of bail-out for folks who forgot to save for retirement during the Bush years.
8.5.2009 1:47pm
JK:
This thread is an amazing combination of reasonable policy analysis and paranoid delusions. Following the conservative blogosphere lately I really have no idea whether the right is fueling up for a big victory, or devouring itself with its own mouth-foaming madness.
8.5.2009 2:06pm
William D. Tanksley, Jr:

This thread is an amazing combination of reasonable policy analysis and paranoid delusions.


Welcome to the Internet, I guess. :-)

-Wm
8.5.2009 2:11pm
Prof. S. (mail):
For defenders of the program - why don't we do "Cash for Shacks." The idea would be simple. You agree to move out of your old house and into a new one and the government will give you $25,000 or $50,000. We then destroy then tear or burn down your old one.

The advantage is that newer homes are more energy efficient, thereby cutting greenhouse gases. You get tons of "stimulus" to the depleted housing sector, as home builders would need to build more to meet the increased demand, demolition companies would get to destroy the others, and you'd reduce the excess capacity in the housing market. I guarantee you that Home Depot and Lowes stock would skyrocket as more building materials were sold. Everyone's home price would go up (one of the big problems in the housing market in the first place).

We could revitalize tough inner-city neighborhoods with new housing stock (and thereby reduce crime), reduce injuries from unsafe home hazards, and put all sorts of people to work building houses.

See that - we just created wealth out of thin air! It's like a real life perpetual motion machine! All we had to do was print more and more money to do it!

So again - defenders of the program - how is this different?
8.5.2009 2:24pm
Moonage Webdream (mail) (www):
The Top Ten list should give anyone a clue how much the Cash for Clunkers program is going to save our bailout investment:
My take in the Top Ten Clunkers list
8.5.2009 2:25pm
DanWeberAnonymous:
I'm not exactly a defender of CARS, but one big difference between a "cash for clunkers" and a "cash for shacks" is that cars deteriorate. (You might be able to have your house depreciate on your taxes, but we all know that's just an accounting trick and doesn't reflect the real world.) Hundred-year-old houses are quite useful.

I try to come up with variations on CARS to examine the result as mental exercises. If the government were to pay anyone, any time, $1000 to turn in their old car on a new one, what would we see?

My initial answers:
1. A floor would be established on the value of used cars.
2. New cars would go up in price by nearly $1000.
3. This would be a transfer mostly to existing car owners.
4. People would not throw out their old cars, instead disposing of them properly.

This would be mostly like a car-deposit scheme, designed to insure that cars are disposed of properly, which is a fine d policy in-and-of itself, but then it should probably work like a deposit does and require a $1000 tax at the time of purchase.

You can alter my thought exercise to say that a car has to be a certain number of years old to get that credit; this would help encourage people to keep old cars running to hit that point, which is environmentally sound.
8.5.2009 2:43pm
rick.felt:
This thread is an amazing combination of reasonable policy analysis and paranoid delusions. Following the conservative blogosphere lately I really have no idea whether the right is fueling up for a big victory, or devouring itself with its own mouth-foaming madness.

Big tent. Or maybe a big family. Yeah, Uncle Ernie's a little off, but he's family, and it wouldn't be a party without him.

Anyway, the same could be said for the sinistersphere ca. 2002-2008, no? Plenty of sane folks, but plenty of 9/11 Truthers. I know it's hard to remember that a substantial portion of the left insisted that fire can't melt steel because it happened so long ago (Eugene Robinson, I'm looking in your direction: "If there's been a more clinically insane political phenomenon in my lifetime than the "birthers," I've missed it."). But if you think back hard enough, you'll recall that much of the left spent most of this decade being completely out of their minds.

And yet... somehow the Democrats managed to rack up two consecutive impressive victories, despite having a whole bunch of lunatics in their ranks. So I wouldn't count the GOP out for 2010 or 2012. Apparently "crazy" wins elections.
8.5.2009 3:17pm
theobromophile (www):
I think that would cost more in shop time than you could get for an old engine.

An engine replacement - used for used - costs about $1,000. (Don't ask me how I know this.)

The biggest problem I have with this is that the government has to get the $1 billion (or $3 billion) from somewhere. Maybe, with all of the trillion-dollar stimulus packages being proposed, we've forgotten, but a billion dollars is a LOT of money. Again, who pays?

I can't help feeling like I - a driver of a '90s era Volvo that gets good mileage - am subsidising the jerks who went out and bought SUVs that got 15 mpg back when gas was a third of the price it is now. Basically, like with the housing market bailouts, renters (and now reliable-old-car drivers) are paying for other people's houses and brand-new cars. Such crap.
8.5.2009 3:21pm
ShelbyC:

renters (and now reliable-old-car drivers)


... and folks that drive relatively new gas guzzlers and like it.
8.5.2009 4:16pm
JK:
rick.felt, no doubt, that's a good point. Although the most extreme nuttiness with the Dems was probably in 04', and I think it might have hurt them in that year (Howard Dean was polling way ahead for a long time). Mainstream Dems had done a pretty good job of separating themselves from truthers by 08'.
8.5.2009 4:51pm
egd:

I can't help feeling like I - a driver of a '90s era Volvo that gets good mileage - am subsidising the jerks who went out and bought SUVs that got 15 mpg back when gas was a third of the price it is now. Basically, like with the housing market bailouts, renters (and now reliable-old-car drivers) are paying for other people's houses and brand-new cars. Such crap.

Welcome to the club.

Saved 20% down to buy a new house, now I'm ineligible for free refinancing of my mortgage.

Pay off my credit card balances every month, now I'm ineligible for credit card assistance.

Bought a car 10 years ago that gets 35 mpg, now I can't get a nice deal on a new one.

Submit accurate taxes and pay the bill before April 15, now I can't get a cushy government job.

Paid for health insurance for all my life, now I'm learning I could get the same care for free, just let the 'rich' pay for it.

It's getting harder and harder to do the right things when the right reasons are going out the window.

The wife and I were looking to buy a new car this year, but with the bailouts and this Cash for Clunkers crap, I'm not interested in helping out those who see me as a rube. We'll put the money in savings and drive our 5-10 year old cars for another five years.
8.5.2009 5:40pm
xx:
Maybe the AP shouldn't write stories about information requests they are involved in? It seems like there's a huge disconnect between the lede ("The Obama administration is refusing to quickly release. . . ") and the facts disclosed in the story ("the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, said the agency will provide the data requested as soon as possible.")
8.5.2009 5:41pm
klw (mail):
Toyota cars are made in the USA so its an american car
8.5.2009 6:19pm
SuperSkeptic (mail):
Not the toyota i had built in 1989
8.5.2009 6:39pm
xx:
I suspect you can't buy a custom 1989 Toyota under the cash-for-clunkers program.
8.6.2009 9:58am

Post as: [Register] [Log In]

Account:
Password:
Remember info?

If you have a comment about spelling, typos, or format errors, please e-mail the poster directly rather than posting a comment.

Comment Policy: We reserve the right to edit or delete comments, and in extreme cases to ban commenters, at our discretion. Comments must be relevant and civil (and, especially, free of name-calling). We think of comment threads like dinner parties at our homes. If you make the party unpleasant for us or for others, we'd rather you went elsewhere. We're happy to see a wide range of viewpoints, but we want all of them to be expressed as politely as possible.

We realize that such a comment policy can never be evenly enforced, because we can't possibly monitor every comment equally well. Hundreds of comments are posted every day here, and we don't read them all. Those we read, we read with different degrees of attention, and in different moods. We try to be fair, but we make no promises.

And remember, it's a big Internet. If you think we were mistaken in removing your post (or, in extreme cases, in removing you) -- or if you prefer a more free-for-all approach -- there are surely plenty of ways you can still get your views out.