Edmunds.com has crunched the numbers, and according to their math, the Cash for Clunkers program cost the U.S. taxpayer $24,000 for each new car sold that would not have been sold without the program.
Granted, the math involves some guesswork. Defenders of the program will argue with the way Edmunds calculated the cost by taking out cars sold that would have been sold without the program.
Edmund's argument, and it's a valid one, is that the program was designed to stimulate sales. It was part of the "Stimulus Package," after all. Therefore, any sales that would have been made without the program should count as "Stimulus."
The logic make sense to me. What that means is that most of the cars sold under the program would have been sold whether the "Cash for Clunkers" program had been in place or not. In fact, about 5 out of 6 cars would have been sold anyway. That means that one in 6 cars sold under the program were actually generated by the program and not the need for a new car.
Those numbers are estimates, of course. Nobody can be 100% sure of the actual numbers, but by looking at sales immediately before and immediately after the program, the estimates should be fairly accurate.
The bottom line is that for ever sale generated by the program itself, the cost to the U.S. taxpayer was nearly the cost of a typical new car. They could have just given them away.
. . . And who put these geniuses in charge?