Facing morning headlines that auto dealers are dropping out of the popular “Cash for Clunkers” program because the government hasn’t reimbursed the vouchers, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) fired off a letter to the Department of Transportation today urging administration officials to expedite their payments and provide dealers with “more certainty” that the money is forthcoming.
For example, the Department should consider implementing a policy providing that all properly submitted vouchers will be reimbursed within five business days, and continue adding staff and devoting resources as needed to meet this timeline. By adopting such a guideline, dealers will be more willing to place their capital at risk to carry the cost of CARS vouchers until reimbursement, and more dealers will continue participating in the program, thereby maximizing the program’s objectives.
On Wednesday, DOT Secretary Ray LaHood told reporters that the agency is adding employees to process the voucher submissions, adding that, “There will be no car dealers that won’t be reimbursed.” Earlier in the week, the department revealed that dealers have already submitted more than 435,000 vouchers, worth roughly $1.8 billion, under the $3 billion program (though it’s still refusing to release the details of those sales.)
Although there will surely be political pressure to extend the program further next month, particularly from Michigan’s powerful delegation, reports this week indicate that the administration is already planning its exit strategy.
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