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Did “Cash for Clunkers” Program Help the Economy, Environment?

Actually economic and environmental effects are debatable.

by on Apr.30, 2010

Does this look like a healthy economy to you? (Click on the chart to enlarge.)

The House Committee on Energy and Commerce is interpreting a new General Accounting Office study of the “Cash for Clunkers” program as saying it met key goals of stimulating the economy and improving vehicle fuel economy.

If only it were that simple.

The press release from the Committee selectively quotes the GAO in what appears to be an attempt to justify the Administration’s economic policies in an election year.

The new GAO report, Lessons Learned from Cash for Clunkers Program, “confirms the beneficial impacts of the CARS program,” according to the Committee headed by Henry A. Waxman, a Democrat from California.

“The CARS program is a classic example of how good environmental policy can also be good economic policy,” said Chairman Waxman. “And it shows how Congress and President Obama have worked to get the American economy moving.”

GAO reviewed two key program goals: stimulating the economy and putting more fuel-efficient cars on the road, and concluded, “The program achieved these broad objectives.”

However, the report also says, “the extent to which it did so is uncertain. For example, nearly 680,000 consumers purchased or leased vehicles using the program’s credit, yet some of these sales would have happened anyway.”    (more…)