Cash for clunkers runs out of money ... after one week; Update: Feds scramble to save program

Unlike pretty much every other Hopenchange economic policy, not only did this one work, it worked better than expected. And yet, I can’t help thinking there’s a lesson in the fact that a centrally planned program budgeted to run through the end of October went bust in, er, seven days. That’s some miscalculation — not unlike the miscalculation that promised unemployment no higher than eight percent once we pinched that $787 billion loaf known as the stimulus. And naturally, the program came buried in so much bureaucracy and paperwork that some dealers gave up on it despite the amazing business it drummed up.

Ah well. I’m sure none of that will happen with national health care.

The program — aimed at giving at boost to the U.S. auto industry — was supposed to expire at the end of October. But in the one week since it took effect, it appears to have run dry of the $1 billion allocated to it, aides said Thursday.

The White House will need to decide whether to push for more money at a time when it’s also pushing an ambitious and expensive domestic agenda — or let the program fade after it was touted as a way to help Detroit while improving the environment.

One Michigan Republican, Congresswoman Candice Miller, has alreayd come out in favor of extending the program, saying in a statement that “There can be no doubt that the Cash for Clunkers program is a complete success given the fact that the entire $1 billion allocated to the program was expended in less than a week.”

She called the program “simply the most stimulative $1 billion the federal government has spent during the entire economic downturn.”

Imagine how stimulative it would be if it wasn’t limited to fuel-efficient cars, per the left’s green agenda, but to any current model. Actually, though, it really isn’t limited: Via the boss, check out Cato’s easy peasy scheme to turn C4C into free money which you can use to buy the clunker or muscle car of your dreams. If they end up extending the program, I’m totally getting that ‘Vette I’ve always wanted. Thanks, Barry!

Update: Looks like I might be getting that ‘Vette after all: “Although key members of Congress were notified by the Secretary of Transportation Thursday that the program would run out of money at midnight, sources said ‘Administration and Congressional officials are working to keep it up and running.'”

Jazz Shaw Jun 22, 2021 6:01 PM ET