Tuesday, August 4, 2009

This Is The Republican’s Idea Of Failure?

Honestly, I’m not getting the argument over “Cash for Clunkers.” Conservatives are calling it a failure because it ran out of money right away but doesn’t that mean it was a success? Wouldn’t it be a failure if no one participated?

Instead, it seems to have done what it was intended to do:
Cash for Clunkers lifts auto sales

Ford ended 19 straight months of sales declines with a 2% increase in July. Other automakers also got a much-needed boost from government trade-in program.

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Most major automakers reported better-than-expected sales in July thanks to a boost in demand sparked by the government's Cash for Clunkers trade-in program.

Ford Motor Co. said Monday that sales rose 2% compared to a year earlier. This was the first increase from any U.S.-based automaker since November 2007. Sales tracker Edmunds.com was expecting a 4% decline in sales for Ford (F, Fortune 500).

General Motors, Toyota Motor (TM) Chrysler Group, Honda Motor (HMC) and Nissan (NSANY) all reported drops in sales compared to a year ago, but sales rose sharply from June. That allowed industrywide sales to reach nearly 1 million vehicles in July.

Even though that was down 12% from a year ago, it was the best sales total since last August, right before the crisis in the financial markets caused a credit crunch and a jump in job losses.

All the companies said they were helped by the popular Cash for Clunkers program, which gives car buyers up to $4,500 for trading in older, gas-guzzling vehicles if they're buying more fuel efficient cars.

So, this is a failure?

I’m seeing all sorts of ads on TV from car dealerships advertising the program, recyclers who deal with the “clunker” part of the program are benefiting, we’re getting polluting gas guzzlers off the road, and this is a failure?

It’s even helping steel manufacturers:

But the steelmaker now says shipments to the auto industry could be up 40 percent in the second half of the year. And Alcoa, which sells aluminum to carmakers, expects to see an increase in sales, too.
but this is a failure?

C’mon. I mean fine, I get it if you don’t think government money should be used for a program like this, but at least have the honesty to say that you have philosophical differences. Don’t call it a failure. The program is a huge success; you can argue whether it’s a good idea to begin with but don’t start that alternate reality shit with me because that just pisses me off.

But no, they’re saying it proves the government can’t run healthcare and let’s have cash for everything. That’s just stupid. For one thing, the government is not going to run healthcare. That’s a ludicrous distortion of the public option that Democrats want in the final healthcare bill. And as for why not have cash for everything, the point of Cash for Clunkers was also to get inefficient, polluting cars off the road, not just stimulate sales.

Republicans know this of course, but they can’t pass up an opportunity to score a political point. This one, though, is incredibly lame. I wonder how well that message resonates with the folks participating in the program?

I’ve got my own concerns about Cash For Clunkers. Our economy has been built on buying too much extraneous stuff, and Cash for Clunkers seems to encourage these materialistic inclinations. Of course, I’m as materialistic as the next person, so I recognize the futility of that argument. It would be nice if our economic barometers were job-based, not consumption based, but that’s not how we determine the health of the economy.

Mostly I worry if it’s expanded, where will the money come from? (Because unlike George W. Bush who never budgeted his wars, Democrats like to pay for things.)

I agree with this FastCompany writer that it shouldn’t be at the expense of renewable energy loans. The long term benefits of a steady transition to renewable energy will reap important rewards far into the future.

Cash For Clunkers was intended to be a temporary program and it needs to remain a temporary program. But while the economy is steadily growing stronger, we are not out of the woods yet. So since it was supposed to last three months, I say we fund it for three months.

And let the Republicans make fools of themselves complaining how a successful government program proves that the government can’t run anything.