Dems Finally Stop Pretending Cash-for-Clunkers Is an Environmental Bill

By
Tuesday, May 19, 2009 at 4:18 pm

Rep. Betty Sutton (D-Ohio) just introduced an amendment to the Waxman-Markey energy and climate bill to include a “cash-for-clunkers” program — and after having initially billed the proposal as an environmental measure, it looks like Sutton and her fellow Democrats are finally dropping the green label and calling it what it is: a stimulus for the sagging auto industry.

The amendment, which would provide financial incentives for people to trade in their old vehicles for more fuel-efficient ones, arose from a compromise between two competing cash-for-clunkers bills, one of which was authored by Sutton and both of which contained much stronger environmental standards than the final product.

Sutton’s bill would have required the new vehicle to get at least 27 miles per gallon, while the bill favored by environmentalists would have mandated 25 percent higher fuel efficiency than the average vehicle in its class. The Sutton amendment — co-sponsored by John Dingell (D-Mich.), Jay Inslee (D-Wash.), Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) and Bruce Braley (D-Iowa) — requires just a 4-mpg improvement over the old vehicle for passenger cars, as long as the “clunker” got no more than 18 mpg. And for large light-duty trucks, a driver is eligible for a $3,500 voucher if he or she upgrades to a vehicle that’s only 1 mpg more efficient.

The result is that people can receive $3,500 to buy a car that gets just 22 mpg — this on the same day that President Obama announced new regulations that will mandate that cars get 42 miles to the gallon by 2016.

And so in introducing her amendment, Sutton framed it in terms favoring the auto industry, rather than the environment.

“Over the last few months, auto sales have greatly suffered,” Sutton said. ” … This program has the potential to help change that.”

Another sign that the amendment lacks real environmental teeth: it’s getting broad support from the Republican side of the aisle.

Update 4:45 PM: The amendment just passed, with 50 votes in favor, 4 against and 1 present.

TWI is on Twitter. Please follow us here

Follow Aaron Wiener on Twitter


Comments

11 Comments

Riccardo
Comment posted May 19, 2009 @ 6:57 pm

Why can't they do both – stimulate the auto industry AND demand greener vehicles! Sure we'd love to get a $2,500 to $4,500 voucher, but why give it to us without us being able to give it back in the form of energy savings?


Steve M
Comment posted May 19, 2009 @ 8:12 pm

How long until this Cash For Clunkers amendment becomes law? The Senate must vote on it, too, yes? SM


TomH
Comment posted May 20, 2009 @ 10:30 am

So for cars is it LESS THAN 18mpg or NO MORE THAN 18 mpg? I have seen conflicting statements on this.


Aaron Wiener
Comment posted May 20, 2009 @ 11:51 am

First, the Waxman-Markey bill has to pass the House — this is looking increasingly likely, although it's entirely possible that it won't get a single Republican vote, and some Democrats might defect. Then the Senate has to pass its version, which is a more difficult proposition, given the 60-vote threshold needed to break a filibuster. And then the two chambers will conference and reconcile the differences in their bills. Whatever cash-for-clunkers program survives that process will become law, assuming (as it's reasonable to do) that President Obama signs the bill.


Aaron Wiener
Comment posted May 20, 2009 @ 11:51 am

So in terms of timing, if it happens, it will most likely be early next year, although there's a lot up in the air, and it could be sooner or later than that.


TomH
Comment posted May 20, 2009 @ 5:30 pm

So for cars is it LESS THAN 18mpg or NO MORE THAN 18 mpg? I have seen conflicting statements on this.


Aaron Wiener
Comment posted May 20, 2009 @ 6:51 pm

First, the Waxman-Markey bill has to pass the House — this is looking increasingly likely, although it's entirely possible that it won't get a single Republican vote, and some Democrats might defect. Then the Senate has to pass its version, which is a more difficult proposition, given the 60-vote threshold needed to break a filibuster. And then the two chambers will conference and reconcile the differences in their bills. Whatever cash-for-clunkers program survives that process will become law, assuming (as it's reasonable to do) that President Obama signs the bill.


Aaron Wiener
Comment posted May 20, 2009 @ 6:51 pm

So in terms of timing, if it happens, it will most likely be early next year, although there's a lot up in the air, and it could be sooner or later than that.


Streetsblog » House to Vote This Week on Weak ‘Cash for Clunkers’ Plan
Pingback posted June 8, 2009 @ 4:50 pm

[...] given that it would theoretically encourage the use of more fuel-efficient vehicles, but it has long since morphed into a thinly disguised gift to the auto industry. The "cash for clunkers" deal that the [...]


Streetsblog » House to Vote This Week on Weak ‘Cash for Clunkers’ Plan
Pingback posted June 8, 2009 @ 5:48 pm

[...] given that it would theoretically encourage the use of more fuel-efficient vehicles, but it has long since morphed into a thinly disguised gift to the auto industry. The "cash for clunkers" deal that the [...]


cody
Comment posted July 10, 2009 @ 2:32 pm

1 billion dollars for cash for clunkers, at 3500 to 4500 a piece, that equals about 280,000 people able to get 3500 of our tax dollars to help them buy a new car, awesome, but i guess they could use my money more then i could, i cant afford to buy a new a car but why shouldnt i help someone who already could afford to buy a new one just because the politicians get kick backs from the automakers if they spend my tax dollars to help them sell more cars, just awesome,
SOCIALISM IS ON THE WAY!


RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.