Great news: Cash for Clunkers might be out of money again already

Not necessarily a bad thing — assuming that all of the dealers’ claims are being processed in a timely, efficient manner.

Which, of course, they’re not.

Late Tuesday, the National Automobile Dealers Association in Washington, D.C., released a survey of its members that estimated they have submitted claims for nearly $3.3 billion. The Cash for Clunkers program is only authorized to spend $3 billion…

Congress is in recess until Sept. 7, and even if members were inclined to add more money, nothing would be decided until they return to Capitol Hill in three weeks…

More than 70 percent, or nearly $2.2 billion, in reimbursement claims have been submitted but not processed

Dealers are supposed to be reimbursed within 10 days of the application being accepted, but that hasn’t happened because of high demand. The NHTSA is trying to triple the number of workers handling the claims.

What to do if you’re a dealer stuck in this boondoggle horror show? Why, opt out, naturally.

The Greater New York Automobile Dealers Association, which represents dealerships in the New York metro area, said about half its 425 members have left the program because they cannot afford to offer more rebates. They’re also worried about getting repaid…

Schienberg said the group’s dealers have been repaid for only about 2 percent of the clunkers deals they’ve made so far…

“But it’s in the hands of this enormous bureaucracy and regulatory agency,” he added. “If they don’t get out of their own way, this program is going to be a huge failure.”

Exit question: Any predictions on how far total claims will exceed total funds by the time Congress is back in session? Over/under is $2.5 billion.