My editors made me take out this bold prediction, which they claimed was, um, totally unsubstantiated: “The bill’s dubious environmental credentials may also give lawmakers green cover for voting against the more ambitious and effective cap and trade legislation currently stalled in the Senate. Blue Dog Democrats and moderate Republicans (both of them) and can tout the environmental stimulus they supported while opposing the costly ‘cap and tax.'”
Just you wait…
UPDATE: My post was featured in The Blue Marble blog’s daily “Eco-News Roundup” and labelled as a “Must Read.”
On Monday night the Car Allowance Rebate System, otherwise known as Cash for Clunkers, rolled off the lot for the last time. While everyone from Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) to climate change expert Joe Romm has praised the program—which offered drivers up to $4,500 to scrap a gas guzzling vehicle for a more efficient one—many questions remain about its implications for the environment and the US economy. Let’s look at the CARS American taxes paid for.
Will CARS jump-start Detroit?
Not likely: While the popular program was never intended to rebuild the US auto industry, some commentators worry that the tune-up could actually backfire. Just as no one predicted that the program would burn through its initial billion-dollar allotment in a week’s time, everyone is unsure what will happen to auto sales now that the incentives have been phased out. In 1997, the end of a similar program in France led to a severe drop in auto sales—a hit that the fragile US economy could struggle to withstand.
The short-term boost for Detroit may also cost it customers in the long term. The top ten clunkers were all American made, but only four of the top ten new vehicles purchased with CARS cash were from the Motor City. The Economist warns that the Big Three, in particular GM and Chrysler, “may find that cash-for-clunkers, by turning more American heads towards Asia’s carmakers, is a present they regret receiving.”
Will CARS pass its emissions inspection?
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Photo credit: dave_7 (via Flickr)