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Friday, September 29, 2023


STAFF EDITORIAL: Jury still out on Cash for Clunkers program

The time to take advantage of the Cash for Clunkers program has passed.

The U.S. Department of Transportation reported that 635,186 consumers had applied for a total of $2.65 billion in clunker rebates as of Monday morning.Originally funded with $1 billion, the program busted a few days after beginning. Another $2 billion in funds was made available, and the program continued.

The numbers may make it seem like the CARS program has been successful, but in many ways it has failed completely. Several dealerships have yet to see any reimbursement from their participation in the program.

A deadline for Monday night was given to dealerships to submit rebate applications, but the Department of Transportation gave dealers an extra day to file the applications after the Web site charged with handling the submissions was overwhelmed.

This leaves much work undone and many dealerships without the necessary funds to refill their lots.

In the coming months, dealerships are sure to hit a dry spell. Much of the decline will occur because dealers do not have many cars left to sell, resulting in higher prices.
For all its faults, if nothing else, Cash for Clunkers successfully prompted scared consumers into one-time spending. The program’s ability to get consumers to spend has led to another version of this initiative.

Beginning this fall, Americans will receive rebates for swapping their clunky home equipment for newer, green models – refrigerators, televisions and landline telephones. Even old, damaged textbooks can be exchanged for a discount on an e-reader.

Although the automotive edition of Cash for Clunkers may prove frivolous in the long run, it has stimulated the economy by motivating Americans to buy.

The success of Cash For Clunkers as a whole is yet to be seen. But splurging on smaller purchases, such as refrigerators and televisions, might not be such a big deal for the Americans any more.

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