Posts Tagged ‘Mitch McConnell’

UPDATE: Cash for Clunkers Looking Good

Wednesday, August 5th, 2009

The AP is reporting at this hour that the Senate has reached a deal to extend cash for clunkers. A vote is scheduled for Thursday to pump $2 billion more into the program, meaning consumers could get rebates on fuel efficient cars through Labor Day.

Following lengthy negotiations, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Democrats and Republicans had agreed to vote on the plan Thursday, along with a series of potential changes to the bill, which was passed by the House last week. Reid has said Democrats have enough votes to approve the measure and reject any changes that would cause an interruption in the rebates of up to $4,500.

Apparently, this means the bill has enough Republican support to ward off a threatened filibuster.

[Republican] Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky concurred that the matter would be settled soon. And objectors conceded they do not have the votes to force all of the changes they want, or to block the House version of the bill.

This is terrific news, for all the reasons I blogged about yesterday. And this:

If the Senate approves the additional money, it’s likely to lead automakers to increase production and bring back laid-off workers. Many automakers reported low inventories due to increased sales from the program at the end of July. Already Hyundai Motor Co. has added a day of production to its Montgomery, Ala., plant, and Ford is considering increases.

It’s a great start to a critical month in which Democrats will be barnstorming the country, making the case for health care reform, asking Americans to trust their government.

POSTSCRIPT: On a 60-37 vote, the Senate approved $2 billion more for cash for clunkers today. The AP reports:

The legislation had its share of critics, though, most of them Republicans.

“What we’re doing is creating debt. … The bill to pay for those cars is going to come due on our children and grandchildren,” said Sen. Judd Gregg, R-N.H.

Really? This, from the same Judd Gregg who didn’t bat an eyelash over the past eight years as George Bush racked up 4 trillion dollars worth of debt? More debt than any president in U.S. history?

I think what we are doing is creating jobs, selling cars, helping the environment, and spurring consumer confidence — all of which could hasten the end of this recession and actually help lower the national debt, over the long term.

But, hey, that’s just me.

The Grinch Who Stole Cash for Clunkers?

Tuesday, August 4th, 2009

Here in the heartland, we were greeted with headlines this morning, the likes of which we haven’t seen since aught seven.

“Clunkers’ restarts auto sales; some makers have best month,” trumpeted the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

The Akron Beacon Journal announced: “July auto sales on the rise as program draws buyers.”

The federal “Cash for clunkers” program, as most people know, offers rebates of between $3,500 and $4,500 to people who trade in old cars for newer cars with higher fuel economy. The old cars have to get 18 miles per gallon or less. The rebate size depends on the fuel economy of the replacement car.

Congress initially appropriated $1 billion for the bill.

Funny thing happened on the way to the car dealership. People love this government program. It helps automakers (Ford last month posted its first sales increase since late 2007), car dealerships, and consumers — spurring the beleaguered economy, all while helping the environment. As the NY Times reports:

Dealers estimated that they moved a quarter-million cars with the rebate money. The Transportation Department reported that of 120,000 rebate applications processed so far, the average gas mileage of cars being bought was 28.3 miles per gallon, for SUV’s 21.9 miles per gallon, and for trucks, 16.3 miles per gallon, all significantly higher than required to get a rebate.

The House last week, with true bipartisan support, passed a bill to extend the program, authorizing another $2 billion worth of rebates.

Enter Senate Republicans.

Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky says cash for clunkers is an example of botched execution by the Obama administration. With people lining up to purchase new, environmentally friendlier cars from economically strapped dealers, Sen. John McCain is reportedly expected to lead a filibuster against the additional funds. Said Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina: “This is crazy to try to rush this thing through again while they’re trying to rush through health care. We’ve got to slow this thing down.” He called cash for clunkers an example of the “stupidity coming out of Washington right now.”

Actually — and this is what many Republicans simple cannot abide — it’s an example of a spectacularly popular government program that works.

Do they seriously mean to tell us with a straight face that because Congress underestimated the popularity of the program, it’s an example of government ineptitude? Would they say the same thing about Apple, which initially could not keep up with demand for iPod minis or Shuffles? Would they castigate Amazon.com, for initially failing to make enough Kindles? Would they hurl bromides about the stupidity coming out of Silicon Valley?

Republicans, having made the specious argument that this program’s popularity proves the government is too inept to manage health care, cannot now afford to let new funding go through. By their own logic, it would show that government can and does work for the people. And it would hand Obama a huge and visible victory as he makes the case this August that government can and will manage health care reform.

Yes, we know. More car rebates will add to the national debt. Just like all those war-time tax cuts Republican senators voted for during the Bush years.

Meanwhile, consumers line up in an ailing economy, hoping the Senate will come through, and they will be able to buy newer cars with better fuel economy.

You’re a mean one, Mr. Grinch.