Pelosi and her cronies spent the weekend touting how fabulous the "Cash for Clunkers" program has been for America. But was it, really?
It did seem to create a very short term stimulus for the auto industry. Numbers aren't in, yet, but dealers report "good, but not great" sales.
Democrats were quick to point to the environmental benefits of the program. However, I researched the top 10 cars purchased with the "clunkers" cash and discovered something surprising: The only car in the top 10 to have an EPA estimaged MPG of better than 31 was the Toyota Prius with 50 MPG. Many of the cars in the top 10 were not in any way "economy" cars; the Ford Escape SUV and the Toyota Camry, which has grown into a full sized auto over the past decade were among the best sellers. The average EPA MPG was 28.
This is somewhat shocking because even the "small, efficient" cars on the list are less efficient than the same models a decade ago. Even in the 1980's, it was not difficult to find a car that would get 33 to 37 MPG. Today, the Toyota Corolla, the Honda Civic, the Chevy Cobalt, and a number of others that fit into the "economy" class get between 28 and 31 MPG.
The other problem with the program is a philosophical one. Charles Krauthammer expressed it best when he said last night that the cash for clunkers program destroys American assets. Billions of dollars in assets were "trashed" by the program, because all of the cars traded in, many of which still had a lot of life left in them, were junked. That makes neither economic nor ecological sense.
Carter Osterhouse, a TV show host and carpenter for HGTV, has said that the "greenest" house is one already built. His point being that more energy and carbon is used building a new home than in taking an old one and making a few upgrades.
I suspect that the greenest cars are the ones already on the road, as well. While environmentalists and members of the UAW would not like to hear it, buying a new car is likely far worse for the environment than making your old one last a few more years. And destroying billions of dollars worth of autos makes absolutely no sense whatsoever for the nation's economy.