Saturday, June 06, 2009

Cash for Clunkers

NASCAR may no longer have the fastest track. The House may vote as early as next Tuesday on a bill to provide a cash-for-clunkers trade-in proposal.

The bill is expected to be considered under suspension of the rules, a fast-track procedure barring amendments and requiring a two-thirds vote for passage. This updated version of an earlier bill is an amendment to the climate change bill (HR 2454). A matching bill (S 1135) has been introduced in the Senate and may be added an amendment to a tobacco regulation bill (HR 1256).

These authorizations are being complemented by House and Senate appropriators adding ~$2 billion to the fiscal 2009 supplemental war funding bill (HR 23346).

Consumers would receive a voucher for up to $4,500 to purchase or lease a new, fuel-efficient vehicle (car, SUV or truck).

The old car must get <= 18 mpg and receive $3,500 for an improvement of 4 mpg or $4,500 for an improvement of 10 mpg.

For a light-duty truck or SUV, the old vehicle must get <= 18 mpg and the purchaser will get $3,500 for a 2 mpg improvement and $4,500 for 5 mpg more. The rationale:
  • Helping the auto industry and dealers
  • Helping the Rust Belt
  • Helping the nation's economy
  • Getting cleaner air
  • Getting better fuel economy in the nation's vehicle fleet
  • Lessening dependence on imported oil
Interested? Check out old car and new car mpg ratings here.


  1. Most vehicles that are currently donated to charity will now be eligible for a voucher of $3500 to $4500. This amount far exceeds the tax deduction of $500 or what the car sells for, whichever is greater. As a result, the "cash for clunkers" legislation will end charity car donation. A much simpler approach would be to change the tax deduction back to the blue book value. This approach would stimulate car sales and provide some much needed money to charities that are stretched very thin in this down economy. Not only that, it wouldn't cost $4 million!

  2. The bill has been passed by Congress. The $1 billion program is authorized from July through November. It is expected to be implemented by early August.