You hear it everywhere you turn.
On street corners, at the water cooler, in advertising … it is everywhere. Get cash now for that worn-out old automobile sitting in your driveway. Even Larry Kudlow, television commentator and a supply-sider if there ever was one, has been extolling the economic healing powers and virtues of the federal government’s Cash for Clunkers program.
I can’t blame anybody. Who can argue against a program that is getting old and possibly dangerous automobiles off the road and putting Americans into more fuel-efficient, safer, new automobiles? Even members of my own family have taken advantage of this program in the last week.
But guess what, folks — there is a reason why this program seems to be more popular, more successful, and more economically stimulating than almost any other idea that has been put in place by Washington.
Simply put: we have put the American people back in charge of the purse strings. The liberals in Washington who voted for Cash for Clunkers might have proven their own policies of massive, wasteful, earmark-ridden budgets filled with liberal pet projects don’t actually lead down the yellow brick road of economic recovery.
Their “stimulus” hasn’t been stimulating. What works? Allowing the American people to make their own choices with their own tax money.
Sounds like the Republican proposals for a stimulus based on tax cuts, doesn’t it?
Still, there are plenty of reasons why the Cash for Clunkers program is not as good and righteous as some would have you believe.
Cash for Clunkers is using our tax money to help one industry over others. Money from the local plumber shop, hair stylist, or hardware store is being used to help a business down the street. Auto repair shop owners and employees, who make their living fixing old cars, may see a drop in business because the government is using tax money to prop up their parent industry.
The Cash for Clunkers program is just one more step in the liberal effort to bail out the UAW. The UAW spent $1.98 million to help elect Democrats in the last election and spent another $4.87 million in independent expenditures to help Obama become president. What did the United Auto Workers get for all of their campaign spending? Well, they succeeded in placing thousands of their members on the public dole. Despite their involvement in helping bring down their parent companies, the UAW (thanks to the Obama administration) owns part of these companies.
American taxpayers now own a share of auto companies and have been funneling money, including the Cash for Clunkers billions, to keep those companies afloat.
And foreign-owned companies are benefiting from our taxpayer dollars. Detroit automakers have made 45.3 percent of the total Clunker program sales, and Japanese-based companies have reported 36.5 percent. While many Japanese autos are assembled in America, their profits are going back overseas.
The environmental benefits claimed by the program are also suspect. While everyone agrees having more fuel efficient vehicles is helpful especially while we continue buying Middle East energy, one has to question where all of the “clunker” vehicles are going.
Reports are that salvage yards are confused about whether they can keep good parts from old vehicles rather than just throw them away. A researcher for the Chemical Heritage Foundation said that the program harms the environment because new vehicles being manufactured use resources and that “engine fluids, refrigerants, and other chemicals” in the clunkers “end up as hazardous wastes.”
The one lasting positive impact then from the program may not be the temporary automotive buying frenzy, but rather the lesson it teaches all Americans: allowing people to make their own decisions is the best way to stimulate an economy. When you unleash the American people from the heavy hand of the big brother in Washington, our economy is unleashed to grow.
David Keene — chairman of the American Conservative Union, whose foundation sponsors CPAC — notes that liberal Democrats have a long history of opposing the idea of allowing Americans to keep their own money to spur on the economy:
[Their opposition is] reminiscent of the Democratic reaction to the Reagan economy back in 1984. First, the Democrats of that era predicted that the recession Reagan inherited would persist because of Reagan’s wrongheaded dedication to cutting taxes. Every believing liberal Democrat knew [that] wouldn’t work.
However, it did work and the American economy recovered. We are seeing the same principles at work in Cash for Clunkers, arguably the most successful program of the last year because the American people were left free to make their own decisions with their tax money.
The same principle is at play with other programs, like school choice. Ultra-liberal Democrats, winning elections using campaign coffers filled by teacher unions, have steadfastly argued against dismantling school bureaucracies. They did not want to allow parents a choice on where their children are educated. However studies have shown student improvement as a result of choice-related programs available in some states where parents can use their tax money elsewhere — outside government-run schools.
Time and time again, when government steps back and allows citizens the freedom to make their own choices, Americans jump at the opportunity.
Isn’t the concept of freedom the very principle upon which our nation was founded?
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men (and women) are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.