Cash for Caulkers: Questionable Idea, Bad Title

What is Cash for Caulkers?

Image from Flickr.

Image from Flickr.

The government this week announced it is planing a new program called Cash for Caulkers. The program has great intentions: conserving energy and saving homeowners money. The idea is that the government will reimburse homeowners to the tune of 50 percent of the cost of any projects that conserve energy around the home.

Like I said, it has good intentions. I have a few reservations about this program, however, and the biggest one is its name. I’m not going to try to mask or hide my loyalties here: I am an Obama supporter all the way. However, that doesn’t mean I blindly agree with every White House decision, and this is an example of a shaky one. Don’t count on paying for home improvements with a short term personal loan and getting the government’s reimbursement in time to pay it back.

Invoking a laughingstock

Cash for Clunkers was an not a great program. Argue all you want, but it operated way behind schedule and ran out of money way ahead of schedule. Furthermore, it was the punchline to many jokes, angered a lot of people because they didn’t get the rebates they were expecting when the expected them and it got axed long before the deadline.

So, first and foremost, I think giving this program the name Cash for Caulkers is a bad idea because it strongly suggests that the same fate will befall this program. Furthermore, some of the holes in Cash for Caulkers regulation indicate it’s pretty likely.

Details on Cash for Caulkers

So far, there is no income limit for who can take advantage of Cash for Caulkers, only a $12,000 limit on reimbursement. So people can do up to $24,000 worth of projects that make their homes more energy efficient and be reimbursed for up to half of it.

Of course, the bill isn’t finished and there will likely be a lot of changes made before it’s finalized, but that’s the gist of it.

Too much too soon

The first thing that needs to be changed is the name. I probably wouldn’t have instantly reacted so negatively to this idea if it had a different name. Furthermore, I think only people who can’t afford to pay for the alterations themselves should be eligible in order to make the budget go farther.

Energy efficient homes can save their owners up to 20 percent per year on their power bills. People who can afford to get more energy efficient appliances and weatherize their houses have plenty of motivation to do it without government incentives.

Also, independent contractors will have to determine whether a project increases a home’s energy efficiency. There are a lot of ways people could defraud the government. I hate to say it, but I think Cash for Caulkers has a good chance of being more trouble, and money, than it’s worth. After all the money that has been pumped into the economy with little to show for it, it might be a good idea to wait until the White House has some positive results to show for its efforts before starting this program.

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