Cash For Clunkers Suspended?

The money may have run out – ALREADY!

No more CARS? (Photo: unclesamsauntie.com)

America needs strong, decisive action from its government that will restore consumer faith in the economy. One of the vehicles President Obama had planned to use to help those of us who are hamstrung by the high cost of gasoline was the Cash For Clunkers program, also known as CARS (Car Allowance Rebate System). With it, people would be able to trade in their older gas guzzlers for new, more fuel-efficient vehicles. It would save consumers money and help the environment.

But after about a week, it appears that Cash For Clunkers will be suspended. This is not inspiring news, Mr. Obama. May I please be allowed to have my cash advances and payday loans now? I’ll need that money to make a down payment on a car Cash For Clunkers was supposed to help me afford!

Cash for Clunkers suspended?

Elisabeth Leamy and Mike Callahan report for ABC News that Congress is currently scurrying about like nervous field mice, looking for a way to funnel more money into Cash For Clunkers, which has proven to be more popular than the government had anticipated. The $1 billion set aside for CARS may not be enough.

Really? You didn’t think people would like the program? You didn’t think that people who truly afford these new high mpg vehicles would still overextend themselves with fat monthly payments? It’s what Americans do.

Still running… on empty

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs says Cash For Clunkers isn’t suspended, but “is up and continuing to run.” But money must flow into the program soon, as Congress begins their recess… today!

The original plan for Cash For Clunkers was for it to continue through November 1, 2009 or until the money was gone. However, the government’s estimate was that each participating dealer who be able to complete up to 12 CARS transactions. Yet that estimate has proven to be ridiculously low, as some dealers processed as many as 250 Cash For Clunkers deals within the first few days of the program. That’s more than 20 times above what the government was expecting. Now dealers are rushing to push their apps through before Cash For Clunkers is suspended.

The Department of Transportation says “scrap it”

In fact, they were on the verge of pulling the plug. Cash For Clunkers would’ve been suspended, but the White House stepped in at the last moment to buy some time.

“We are working to assess the situation facing what is obviously an incredibly popular program,” Gibbs said. “Auto dealers and consumers should have confidence that all valid cars transactions that have taken place to date will be honored.”

Yet the CARS Web site – www.cars.gov – showed $779 million remaining. Sounds like creative accounting to me. But the Web site is still running and displays no news about the program being suspended as of this writing. Dealers are still running their Cash For Clunkers commercials, too.

Dealers on the hook

Oh, did I mention the Web portal dealers have to use has been crashing almost constantly? So there’s a backlog of at least 25,000 transactions that dealers have made but the government has not yet approved. What will happen if the government shuts this thing down? Car dealers are in enough of a mess as it is.

“It’s up to the dealership now to get it’s money back, and that’s where the fear lies,” said one dealership owner to ABC News. “Customers are on the road but now we’re on the hook for the rebate.”

In light of this danger, some dealers are requiring that customers sign an agreement where they’ll return their new cars if government funding disappears. There are already plenty of cars that the EPA disqualified at the last second. Happy campers, get ready to pitch your fits!

WWCD (What Will Congress Do?)

Some senators have argued that while it may be possible to procure the cash to keep Cash For Clunkers going, there needs to be tougher standards put into place as to what vehicles will be eligible. In a joint statement, Sens. Dianne Feinstein of California (Dem.) and Susan Collins of Main (Rep.) said the following:

We will insist than any extension of the program requires that the minimum fuel economy improvement for newly purchased vehicles be at least two miles per gallon higher than it is under the enacted clunkers program. It is also important to include lower-income consumers who are disadvantaged under the current program. So, we would also include a voucher for the purchase of fuel-efficient used vehicles.

Cash For Clunkers guidelines (for now)

  1. If you own a car from 1984 or later that gets 18 combined highway and city miles per gallon or less, you may qualify for the Cash For Clunkers – if it’s not suspended!
  2. If it starts and has been registered and insured within the past year, you may qualify for the Cash For Clunkers – if it’s not suspended!
  3. If the new vehicles gets four more miles per gallon than your clunker, you get $3,500 from the government – if Cash For Clunkers isn’t suspended!
  4. If the new vehicles gets 10 more miles per gallon than your clunker, you get $4,500 from the government – if Cash For Clunkers isn’t suspended!
  5. An SUV, minivan or small pickup only needs an mpg bump of two to five – if Cash For Clunkers isn’t suspended!
  6. The new vehicle just cost less than $45,000 – unless Cash For Clunkers is suspended!

I believe I’d still need cash advances or payday loans for the down payment. If I were buying, I’d get those loans right here. Give it a try, won’t you?

Related Video:

Other recent posts by bryanh