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Cash for Clunkers: Dealerships and Customers Wait for U.S. Senate

(Note added August 6, 2009: The U.S. Senate PASSED the $2 billion CARS program extension, and President Obama will quickly sign the legislation into law, if he has not already done so. [Note added August 8, 2009: President Obama signed the legislation into law.] Amazingly, a number of Republicans [and ONLY Republicans] voted against the extension.)

(Note added August 10, 2009: We concluded our deal satisfactorily last week. (Our new [well, 2009] Honda Civic was built in Greensburg, Indiana, USA). To find out if your vehicle qualifies (and what it is worth under the program), look at the official site http://www.cars.gov)

I just got through emailing U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, asking for them to urge their colleagues in the U.S. Senate to pass an extension of funding for the CARS Program (Cash for Clunkers) as soon as possible this week, i.e., TOMORROW. :-)

Why?

Personally, I have a car deal in the balance that is waiting for the dealer to feel “safe” that he will be reimbursed $4500 from the U.S. government under the CARS program.

But I am willing to bet that I am not alone….

(Incidentally, Senator Feinstein “came around to” supporting the CARS Program extension [she ALWAYS supported the original program] after learning that “consumers” [i.e. “people”] were using the program to purchase VERY fuel-efficient vehicles.)

We desire to “clunk” a WONDERFUL 1996 Toyota T100 pickup truck (rated 16 mpg under the program (originally listed as 19 mpg highway, 17 city), and worth $4500 “clunked” for a 2009 Honda Civic (29 mpg combined). Sure, my truck still runs well at 160,000+ miles – it’s a Toyota (not an endorsement, but I love mine)! It even sports BRAND NEW all-terrain Michelin tires that I purchased in June (nobody was advertising “Cash for Clunkers” THEN!) to replace the preceding Michelin all-terrain tires that still had tread after almost 100,000 miles (not an endorsement, but if I were you, I’d buy Michelins).

(I also have said that, if it is not raining and I do not have to carry anything LARGE, I travel by my fuel-efficient (50 mpg) 1100 cc Honda Shadow [a motorcycle].)

I started on Monday, working through the AAA‘s Auto Advocate program. I did a great job at buying a Honda Civic for my daughter a few years ago by myself (without leaving my desk at home), at $300 BELOW Consumer Report‘s “Bottom Line Price” by having three dealers compete. But things are CRAZY now…. (We’re more MAD than usual here!) Also, I am probably less patient than I used to be in talking with automobile salespeople (although I’ve never actually harmed one)! :-)

After completing everything I could on MY side prior to the signing of the contract (all paperwork in place, the car is there and ready and there is agreement on price, and we are pre-approved by our credit union for the loan amount and terms), I learned TODAY that the DEALER would rather wait until Friday (why not? :-) ) to be assured of receiving his $4500 from the U.S. government, after the much-anticipated passage of an extension of the CARS Program by the U.S. Senate. (But it hasn’t HAPPENED yet, so it’s not a “sure thing,” even though we have been told that “the votes are there.” :-) ) Besides, I don’t know if ANYONE knows how much (if any) of the original $1 billion allocated to the program is left! (… or, if NONE is left, WHEN the money ran out! :-) Another pleasant thought….)

Heck, I’m a businessman, too. I would hate to be stiffed for $4500 by the U.S. government! It is expensive ENOUGH doing business in California, or just living here! :-) (I know that I have mentioned my current 9.75% sales tax in Alameda County.)

So, I checked CNN online to see if the Senate passed the CARS funding extension today. Nope! If the votes are there, WHERE IS THE MOVEMENT?

The U.S. Department of Transportation data shows that Cash for Clunkers (aka “CARS”) has been a GREEN success. The “clunkers” traded averaged 15.8 mpg and the new vehicles purchased averaged 25.4 mpg, a fuel economy increase of 61%.

Although news articles (Note added August 6, 2009: … and car commercials) talk about Cash for Clunkers in the “present tense,” as though the program is still going on (we have all been assured that it is still going on because it hasn’t been suspended :-) ), dealers and customers (like myself) are waiting for confirmation that the MONEY is still there!

C’mon U.S. Senate! Seldom has the “right thing to do” also been “the popular thing to do!” Pass the $2 billion funding extension for the CARS Program on Thursday, August 6, and make the voters in your states HAPPY! (We are a lot CHEAPER than bailing out financial corporations! Besides, we [and our children] are PAYING FOR IT!) Passage is good for your constituents, good for the environment, good for public safety, and good for the economy! (Oh, and VERY POPULAR…!)

How much better does it get? :-)

(Besides, just think how ANGRY those constituents that you speak with during the recess will be if the program is NOT extended by then….)

(Note added 11:11 AM PDT August 6, 2009: Well, I still have not read of the passage of the extension. Republican opponents of the extension, who need to gather some middle- and working-class support and overcome any “image” of being “mean-spirited ideologues” might want to view the CARS extension as being a good way to do just that! Or perhaps they are more concerned about the effect of a lot of fuel-efficient vehicles on their friends in Big Oil….)

-Bill at Cheshire Cat Photo™

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