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Do you agree with the government’s “cash for clunkers” program?

Asked at Massachusetts Street on July 28, 2009

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Photo of Patrick Mushrush

“Yeah, that’s a great idea for more fuel-efficient vehicles and saving money.”

Photo of Kelly Payton

“I think there are probably a lot of people who need a more efficient care and don’t have the money to pay for it.”

Photo of Rachel Leek

“Yes, I agree there should be more fuel-efficient cars to save the environment.”

Photo of Kristen Pironis

“I think there are more important things to work on - like the economy and health care.”


canyon_wren 8 years, 9 months ago

From what I know about it, I think it is not a good idea. For one thing, it seems to me it will deprive GOOD mechanics of a lot of their work. And I agree with charley in that I hope people don't take on more debt because of it. Also, like so many other products, some of the older cars are of better quality than the newer ones, though maybe that doesn't apply to anything built since 1985. Guess I am too distrustful of all the "hyped" solutions to our problems. Just simple frugality on the part of everyone would help a lot.

Godot 8 years, 9 months ago

I doubt this program will take 250,000 older cars off the road - the rumor is that administration of Cash for Clunkers is eating up half of the money set aside for it.

I will wait awhile and see how it works. I hope it helps get inventory off of the dealers' hands.

The sad thing is this is just moving money around, taking from one taxpayer to give to another. It is not creating anything new, not adding anything to the economy. In fact, as others have said, it is taking away livelihood from mechanics, salvage, parts and used car dealers while setting up a situation where it will be even harder for people to find affordable cars for basic transportation in the near future.

50YearResident 8 years, 9 months ago

This is only going to add to car repossessions and bank problems as the people driving these clunkers can't afford a better car or they wouldn't be driving the clunker. Here is what is going to happen. Joe Blow will take his clunker in and trade for 99 cents down and get $4500 for his clunker. He will not make any car payments because he can't afford to. After about 6 months he will be repossessed and the finance company is going to loose about $10,000 on the deal. Joe will buy another clunker for $200 and be right back where he started from.

Godot 8 years, 9 months ago

50YearResident, you are right about that. My only addition to your comment is that the "finance company" is the taxpayer - we own GMAC, and are backstopping others with unconsitutional guarantees made by the Treasury,

pmsharp 8 years, 9 months ago

Less gas tax money collected with clunkers off the road, so up go your tax on gasoline,the feds need your tax dollars!!

sherbert 8 years, 9 months ago

I'm afraid it's going to encourage a lot of folks to buy a new car when they can't afford it. Isn't the limit on the new car up to $40,000? Bad loans, more repo's in a year or so!

canyon_wren 8 years, 9 months ago

I guess nobody noticed, but I called blue73harley "charley"--I always see it that way, even though I know better. And I'll bet a blue '73 Harley is a thing of beauty! Sorry about that

Alia Ahmed 8 years, 9 months ago

I think there are more important things to work on - like the economy and health care.” — Kristen Pironis, Communications director, Annapolis, Md.

People may argue about whether the program will work, but I was under the impression at least part of the reason for this program was to encourage people to buy new cars, which would help automakers and stimulate the economy as well as get gas guzzlers off the road.

Chris Ogle 8 years, 9 months ago

NO Thanks, I will keep my clunker.... wonder if I could get some historical government grant???

RoeDapple 8 years, 9 months ago

13 mpg in my F-250 costs me less than the obama plan!

keep the change.............

bluedawg79 8 years, 9 months ago

I keep reading these negative comments over and over about how this administration has ruined the country even more, but you haters never post what a better option would be to turn around the economy. Instead of spewing your acidic comments, how about some constructive criticism?

jonas_opines 8 years, 9 months ago

"Instead of spewing your acidic comments, how about some constructive criticism?"

Why? This is a message board, which pretty much precludes the chance of any meaningful result having an effect on pretty much anything.

Canyon-wren- I noticed! I just didn't know if it was an error or an outing.

BMI 8 years, 9 months ago

Fail, but can we figure out a reason to have a beer summit about it?

beatrice 8 years, 9 months ago

Why are so many assuming that credit is as readily available as it was a couple of years ago? Program or not, people need much higher credit ratings to get auto loans these days, as it always should have been. I doubt seriously if we will see repos escalate in a year because of this program.

The program is good because it is working. It stimulates the economy through the purchase of automobiles, which is good for the sellers and the manufacturers. It is also good for states because of the taxes brought in. It is also good for the country because of greater fuel efficency that will help keep oil prices down.

In the paper here in Phoenix, dealers were saying they were having their best days in sales in more than a year because of this program. So yes, the program is a good one and I agree with it.

Now, if I can only get invited to the White House to have a beer with those who disagree with me and I'll be happy.

canyon_wren 8 years, 9 months ago

Hi, Bea! Come to Moab and I will share a beer with you (how about Negra Modelo?). I am sure we could find many things we DO agree on. Guess it is pretty hot down there in Phoenix about now. I have Phoenix friends who came up to Moab to cool off this past week--hard to believe when it hasn't been under 100 degrees for a high here for several weeks.

bluedawg79 8 years, 9 months ago

Right, I forgot a message board is only for comments from naysayers and cynics. My bad. Just defends my comment to say people are quick to complain but rarely put forth any alternative. But, by all means resume bemoaning how just awful your life has become since the Obama administration. You keep the boards entertaining.

dajudge 8 years, 9 months ago

Sorry, I'm done with car payments for awhile. I could use a newer car, but I'm not thrilled with the choices out there. My '92 Park Ave. gets over 30mpg on the highway and only has 76,000 miles. It's not even half used yet. Why have it crushed? Just give me $4500 and I will help stimulate the economy.

Flap Doodle 8 years, 9 months ago

Wait until you see the "tax credit for a kidney" provision in the new health care bill!

beatrice 8 years, 9 months ago

Hey canyon wren! Can you believe people who go to Moab and its 100 degree weather just to cool off? Yikes. Scary hot here the last couple of weeks, with 115 degree days and storms in various parts of the valley at night, which brings the humidity. Ugh. I haven't been there in some time, but Moab is truly a beautiful place.

And yes, I'm sure there are many, many things we do agree on. Cheers! (well, cheers later in the day when it isn't too early to be drinking a Negra Modella, that is!)

jaywalker 8 years, 9 months ago

Not just no, but hell no!

And a word of warning: do whatever you can to check the financials on the dealerships you're dealing with, particularly on the 'buy back' programs and when trading in a car you still owe on. There are two dealerships near me that have gone under and people that traded in a car thinking the dealer was gonna finish the payments are now paying two notes. Baaaad news.

Stuart Evans 8 years, 9 months ago

maybe the government should have just given people brand new cars that they bought from GM & Chrysler. this would have kept both companies out of bankruptcy, kept the government out of ownership, given a bunch of joe schmoes new cars, etc.

and as for stimulating the economy. If the Gov would give us working Americans a 6 month tax-free period, that would do wonders to stimulate the entire economy. as it is, our income tax is being used to pay the interest to the Federal Reserve on the printed money they loan to our government. But that won't happen because it's counter productive to the Fed's real interests. Just like every recession, this one was engineered for a purpose. I think we'll see a a couple more of these very scary recessions before they decide to roll out the Amero currency to "save" us all.

Stuart Evans 8 years, 9 months ago

logicsound says: "One criticism of the plan is that people will buy cars they can't afford, which sounds like quite a stretch to me. That's not a problem with the plan, that's a problem with individual responsibility."

this sounds exactly like what just happened with the housing market...what makes you think it wouldn't happen with cars too? American's buy all kinds of things that we can't afford.

canyon_wren 8 years, 9 months ago

logic--you are right--the "mechanics out of work" (my post))was a weak argument--especially since it's true that there's no guarantee that a newer car will be in top shape. However, I don't truly think that represents a "stuck in our ways" attitude--can't really see the connection there.

I DO think many of the other arguments presented as reasons why this isn't a good plan are fairly sound, though, and am afraid it is just another opportunity for people to go into debt. But, as you say, that isn't the fault of the plan, it's an "individual" problem that is the cause of much of our present predicament.

gccs14r 8 years, 9 months ago

There should be a different window. Instead of 0 to 25 years, it should be 10 to 40 years. It's stupid to crush anything younger than ten years old for a minor improvement in fuel economy, and there is a lot of mid-70s cr*p out there that should come off the road.

puddleglum 8 years, 9 months ago

blue73harley: "One thing the Dems talked about during the election that got my attention and support was about increasing jobs in the US and finding way to stop encouraging companies from off-shoring. Nothing in any stimulus plan so far has addressed this issue. Until US jobs are more secure, it is sheer folly to think conservative, rational Americans will spend money"

right with you there. when will we ever wake up? when we have to learn chinese?

Ill keep my old cars, thanks. I don't need the rip-off of paying inflated insurance for a new car plus the state ripping me off for taxes plus the state ripping me off for inflated registration costs. b.s.

Stuart Evans 8 years, 9 months ago

We as Americans need to learn to live on less. Less consumption, less government services, less, less, less! Guess what that would lead to.. Less taxes. this idea that we can just keep generating tax is leading us down a nasty road. I'm already giving away somewhere between 40-60% of my income to assorted taxes. I just can't give any more.

bluedawg79 8 years, 9 months ago

Car dealers and lenders will have to make their own decisions on whether to lend to borrowers utilizing this program. Right now their main concern is getting their surplus off the lots and keep the industry rolling, and this program is aimed at doing just that. Lending is indeed tighter now than it has been in the last decade, and while I agree with concerns that this could lead to a repo-boom later down the road, I further agree to that is a personal responsibility to know what you can and cannot afford. Take ownership! You can't blame the bank and the government for your own spending habits. And addressing concerns that this will take business away from mechanics, remember that this plan at most will take away about 250,000 'clunkers', hardly a dent in the number of 'clunkers' on the road, so mechanics will still be in business. For those who are avid defenders against the government continuing pumping money into the economy, well who else is going to at this point? So many have lost so much money in the last year they are sitting on every last penny. We can't depend solely on the consumer and the invisible hand to rebuild this economy. Doing so would require us to be in a much gloomier situation than our current course before potentially breaking free. Are you willing to go to that point for no goverment intervention?

sherbert 8 years, 9 months ago

Yea, well I wonder what Dave Ramsey thinks of the $4,500. tax credit? Probably shouldn't go from an older, paid off car, to a new car loan just to get a little better fuel economy. It's just an excuse to get people to buy cars that they don't need or can't afford, otherwise, they would have already done it.

bad_dog 8 years, 9 months ago

You know I saw an advertisement for a new Toyota Corolla last night. The advertisement indicated that you could get a new Corolla for $99/month after trading in your clunker.

If you drive something that is paid off but only gets 10-15 mpg, it seems the savings from a higher mpg capable vehicle and zero mechanical upkeep costs during the warranty period will go a long way toward making the monthly payment as well as the increased insurance premiums and property taxes.

You also get the satisfaction of driving a new, extremely dependable car with a 60k drivetrain warranty that uses less fossil fuels and is an ultra low emissions vehicles, to say nothing of helping dealerships remain financially viable while putting food on their employees tables. Other cars like Kias and Hyundais are probably even more affordable

Is all that worth it? Nah, probably not. Keep on keepin' on folks.

RoeDapple 8 years, 9 months ago

bad_dog, I need a pick up to pull my business trailer. From what I've seen of my neighbors Toyota pick up, I'll probably be helping him haul it away in 5 or 6 years with my F-250. His truck is one year old, mine is 8. His truck had more rattles and road noise new than mine does with 90,000 miles.

keep the change...........

Leslie Swearingen 8 years, 9 months ago

Multi , thanks, that was a great link. That poor dog. JackRipper to me $700.00 is a lot of money. I don't get that amount a month on SSI. What you write makes a lot of sense. However people can't move closer to work. People have to live where they can afford to. Cities will keep getting bigger as the population grows so along with not thinking you should get everything you want, which is pretty much everything you see, population growth would be the main factor to look at. The Chinese plan didn't fail because it was a one child policy, it failed because people wanted that one child to be a boy. So, who is going to be giving birth to boys? Now the government is encouraging some families to have more children. All of which will be riding bicycles and living longer.

oldvet 8 years, 9 months ago

I'm in favor of it even though my old clunker only gets (according to the government) 19mpg, thus not eligible. On it's best day, it got 20mpg on a long highway trip - 400+ miles. Around town it gets 12-15 mpg. But still not eligible, so I'll keep it for the boy and buy the gas. Otherwise, it would have gone to the junk yard and I would pass the wife's car to the boy, and she would have a new car. Oh well... It was a nice idea, though, to pass some benefits to regular working people who usually are the ones paying for the lazy to stay home living off of the gubment.

Godot 8 years, 9 months ago

I don't blame the dealers for backing out. This program requires the dealers, who are already stressed to the max, to front the "rebate," subject to .gov approval. These guys might be out this extra cash for weeks while they wait for an OB (Obama Bureauocrat) to decide if the clunker sale meets His O's ever shifting criteria for the Obama kiss of approval. (OKA!) If the deal does not pass the "O" test of approval, the dealer gets to absorb the loss.

Considering BHO's track record of disreprecting the rights of dealers (aka small business owners) bondhonders and stockholders, these car dealers should be saying, "Show me the money," before they allow a single one of these "skittles for clunkers" deals to go down in their names.

gccs14r 8 years, 9 months ago

"People didn't move to suburbs because it was cheaper than living in the city. They wanted space. That desire wasn't created with the car, it is in the very nature of human expansion."

The "desire" to have to do home repairs and lawn maintenance every weekend was sold to us by marketers who wanted to sell more cars.

middleoftheroad 8 years, 9 months ago

It's a good idea in theory...encourage spending to re-energize the economy, increase the number of cars on the road with higher quality emissions, etc. However, most people who have a "clunker" that is worth only $1000 or so on trade in, probably can't afford a brand new car. I drive a 1997 with 182,000 miles on it that does it's job. I live in a state that requires inspection (NOT Missouri) and it passes every year. However, I know I'll need something in the near future and this program would have been a great incentive for me to buy now instead of waiting. However, even with the rebate, a brand new car is WAY out of my budget.

Had the plan included used cars that meet the same MPG requirements it would make much more sense. We all know the incredibly high depreciation rate on brand new cars. Why not encourage smart spending rather than brand new??? Oh, that's right...we're also trying to bail out Chrysler, GM, etc.

bad_dog 8 years, 9 months ago

Roe-sorry about the delay responding to you.

First, I'm talking about a Corolla here, not an F-250 or similar truck that isn't even eligible for the program, so just how is your example even relevant to this discussion? I was just citing a Toyota product as a repesentative example of a product eligible for this program in response to the whiners claiming bad loans for unaffordable cars were somehow the logical result of this program. I wasn't extolling the virtues of Toyota over any other manufacturer. However, as for your Ford versus Toyota quality inference, would you care to compare the historic reliabiity and durability of a product eligible for the program such as a Toyota Corolla or Camry to a Ford sedan such as a Fiesta, Escort or Taurus?

Next, is your neighbor's truck a Tacoma or a Tundra? If it's a Tundra, it will more than likely be the one running long after your 250 has died of rust or catastrophic engine drivetrain failure-even if they were similar vintage and mileage. Ford builds a good truck, but take a look at Consumer Reports reliability records sometime. Toyota generally vastly exceeds the quality standards of domestic manufacturers. Why do you think they sell so many Toyotas?

I've owned, driven and liked trucks from both Ford and Toyota. The 250 is obviously a heavier duty truck than the 1/2 ton Tundra. Nevertheless, for everyday use I'll still take a Tundra over a 150 anyday. For heavier hauling duty, it's the 250, hands down. Heavier duty everything from the wheels up, plus you can get a diesel if you want one.

Embrace the change, Roe...

TacoBob 8 years, 9 months ago


Are we putting Ford at a competitive disadvantage - who somewhat kept their stuff in a pile - by bailing out GM and Chrysler?

Serious question.

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