The House recently passed a Cash for Clunkers bill which aims to increase new car sales while getting older, inefficient “clunkers” off the road. In exchange, participants can earn up to a $4,500 credit/voucher off the price of a new, more fuel-efficient car. Here’s why I don’t think it will work, and why I don’t plan to participate if it should become law.
Photo courtesy of dave 7
First of all, I think it is a mistake to create artificial demand for new cars by borrowing from taxpayers. I would much rather see the four billion dollars this program will likely cost be used to pay down some of our national debt, and let the creation of buyer’s incentives be left up to car manufacturers.
With unemployment still hovering around double digits (real unemployment is actually much higher), I doubt many people are going to rush out to buy a new car simply because the government is offering cash for clunkers. Environmental concerns aside, we’d be better off financially, continuing to drive our clunkers.
What if your so-called “clunker” is worth more than the value of the voucher? You might be able to get more from a straight-up trade in, or selling your vehicle private sale, than taking advantage of the cash for clunker offer. Of course, that option does not get the cars off the road, which is a close second objective of this bill–the first is to stimulate new car sales.
If you are on the fence about the cash for clunker program, perhaps the ever-increasing gas prices this summer will help change your mind. Do you think it is a coincidence prices are quickly approaching $3.00 per gallon?
This all reminds me of the $600 tax rebate checks, which had little effect (temporary, at best) on stimulating spending. When people are worried about losing their jobs, and already deep in debt, they are usually not in a spending mood. Any additional cash will be saved or used to pay down debt. I plan on keeping my clunkers, thank you very much.