David Harsanyi labels cash for clunkers an "unmitigated fiasco" in a Denver Post piece called Little bitty bang, bang:
To begin with, building a new car consumes energy. It is estimated that 6.7 tons of carbon are emitted in process. So a driver who participates in the "cash for clunkers" program would need to make up for that wickedness. There around 250 million registered vehicles in the United States. Only a micro-slither of those cars will be traded in--and a slither of that number could be deemed a "clunker" outside the Beltway.
A survey of car dealerships found a relatively small differential in fuel efficiency of cars traded in and those replacing them. A Reuters analysis concluded--even with the extended program in place--cash for clunkers would trim U.S. oil consumption by only a quarter of 1 percent.
As an economic stimulus, the plan is equally impotent. As James Pethokoukis, a columnist at Reuters, succinctly explained,"the program gets much of its juice via stealing car sales from the near future rather than generating additional demand."
The point of a stimulus should be to create new demand, not to move existing demand around to score political points. Then again, for this administration, economic recovery always takes a back seat to moral recovery.