Despite plaudits by Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood as “the one stimulus program that seems to be working better than just about any other program,” Cash for Clunkers has turned out to be one big flunker. As The Wall Street Journal reports, not only did this bureaucratic brainchild drive a 25 percent drop in new car sales for U.S. automakers in September as compared with last year, but the program’s grand vision of advancing environmental salvation translated into a mere 0.2 percent reduction in annual oil consumption (less than one day’s worth), and that’s a best-case scenario.
To top it off, according to the University of Delaware’s Burton Abrams and George Parson, all factors considered, the program imposed a net cost of about $2,000 per vehicle. In short, government made the country $1.4 billion poorer and spent nearly $3 billion to do so. And that’s Washington’s definition of a “working” program.