By: Inoljt, http://mypolitikal.com/
Conservatives often moan about the inefficiency and waste that comes with big government. A lot of times they have a point; government can sometimes be mindnumbingly bureaucratic (or far worse). Anybody who’s had a bad experience with the DMV can probably attest to this.
Nevertheless, this does not mean that every single government program is evil. The “Cash-for-Clunkers” rebate program was a prime example of an effective, helpful government program.
As envisioned by its writers, the program had two goals: 1st, to revive auto sales badly hit by the recession (helping GM and Chrysler); 2nd, to encourage customers to buy fuel-efficient cars, thus improving energy security and the environmnt. A customer would get a several thousand dollar rebate for trading in an old car and then buying a new, more fuel-efficient car.
The program has proved an enormous success. Car sales rose measurably “to their highest pace in 11 months”. Admittingly, sales at GM and Chrysler were still declining – but the decline is the smallest that year. Moreover, the new cars that were being bought were far more fuel efficient than mandated by the terms of the rebate.
In fact, “Cash-for-Clunkers” was been far more successful than hoped for. So many new cars were been bought that the funds behind the program ran out. One would expect more funds to be renewed with fierce urgency. Who wouldn’t want such an effective program to be discontinued?
Unfortunately, the Senate was mysteriously tardy in approving more funds. In fact, the reason was not that mysterious. Part of it was that many fiscal conservatives feel very uncomfortable “feeding the monster.” Part of it was just the Senate’s innate sluggishness.
I think many conservatives were wrongheaded in their dislike of this program. Not all government is bad. A number of government programs – NASA, the military, acid rain regulations – have proven to be effective and useful. “Cash-for-Clunkers” is one of these. Maybe the majority of government is indeed bad. But it’s stupid to be against the good parts.
Moreover, the program’s design involved very little bureaucracy. The government wasn’t directly involved; it was merely an intermediary that advances money. “Cash-for-Clunkers” was also very simple. An average person can understand how it works in less than a minute. If there’s any government program a conservative could get behind, it was this one.