Seeking Answers on ‘Cash for Clunkers’
As funding for the $1 billion cash for clunkers program has reportedly dried up less than one week after its launch, Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) want answers from the White House about what vehicles are being sold and scrapped under the program. In a letter to Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, the lawmakers say they’ll need the data “to evaluate and improve the current program.”
The tremendous number of sales in the first week of this program demonstrates that the CARS Act has succeeded in increasing new vehicle sales, but Congress needs this data in order to determine if the fleet modernization program delivered significant fuel economy gains and oil savings.
They have an ulterior motive. Even as Detroit’s defenders successfully pushed through legislation encouraging sales of new gus-guzzlers, Feinstein and Collins were among the critics urging that the purchased vehicles get better gas mileage in order to qualify for the thousands of dollars in cash vouchers. Along with Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), they have sponsored of a more environmentally minded cash for clunkers program.
They lost that fight, but considering the popularity of the program, they might have more leverage the second time around. Indeed, the defenders of the existing program can no longer fall back on the argument that lax eligibility is needed to encourage participation.