Cash for Clunkers: Too Awesome to Live

Government program was a victim of its own success

By Sara K. Smith
|  Friday, Aug 21, 2009  |  Updated 7:30 AM EDT
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This program had it all: free money, and car-smashing drama.

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The Obama administration hasn't had much in the way of good news for the little people lately. It's all been "Oh sorry we have to bail out all those banks that wasted trillions of your dollars, but we cannot help you with your tiny mortgage" and "Surely your grandchildren will not mind indentured servitude to the government, as we have trillions more to borrow."

So people were pretty stoked, to say the least, when they found out that President Obama was going to give them up to $4,500 to buy a new car. Free money! From the government! For them, the individual citizen, even though they had not wiped out a single bank or insurance group!

Folks can say they hate socialism as much as they want, but do not get between an American and a massive cash subsidy from Uncle Sam. The Cash for Clunkers initiative was so popular it very quickly ran out of money, at which point people rightly wondered how a government that couldn't run a small automobile purchasing incentive program could ever reform our healthcare system. After all, the car and healthcare industries have so much in common ... even if only one has a mandate for universal insurance coverage.

Anyway. As of Monday, Cash for Clunkers will be officially dead. It gave the auto industry a much-needed shot in the arm during an otherwise dismal year for sales, and it took legions of gas-guzzling jalopies off the road and replaced them with at least slightly more fuel-efficient ones.

The only losers? Car dealers, many of whom have yet to be reimbursed by the government for the rebate money they fronted; and the overwhelmed scrap yards that by law could not recycle the most valuable parts of the "clunkers" (their engines).

But consider this: Cash for Clunkers' success provides all the proof we need that healthcare reform will go off without a hitch.

Frequent salvage yard visitor Sara K. Smith writes for NBC and Wonkette.

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