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President Obama signs cash for clunkers bill

by Bill Cawthon on

As expected, President Barack Obama wasted no time approving legislation that added another $2 billion to the Car Allowance Rebate System, extending the program through Labor Day.

The original funding was essentially gone after just a week as more than 220,000 light vehicle sales gobbled up some $920 million of the original $1 billion allocated for three months.

Senate Republicans tried to derail the additional funding by adding amendments to the Senate bill which would have delayed a vote until after the Senate’s month-long break that begins at the close of the today’s session. There was also a Democratic amendment, but Senators voted down all the amendments and passed legislation that matched that already approved by the House of Representatives.

Senator Richard Shelby (R-Alabama), the top Republican on the Senate Banking Committee, who was a vociferous opponent of the Administration’s aid to Chrysler and General Motors, remains unpersuaded by the success of the CARS program as demonstrated by July light vehicle sales, saying the incentives have compressed months of normal sales into a short period.

According to the Senator, “When the backlog is met, interest in the program will fade, and the facade of economic benefit will disappear.”

However, the industry disagrees with Senator Shelby. Even Hyundai, the Korean automaker with a facility in the Senator’s home state, is in favor. In a press release issued earlier this week, Dave Zuchowski, vice president of national sales for Hyundai Motor America, said, “We hope the Senate will support the additional $2 billion the House has approved. The program is good for the environment, cuts oil dependency, saves consumers money and is good for the economy – and our dealers have a great lineup of vehicles perfect for customers looking for safe and energy-efficient transportation.”

The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, the trade group that represents the Detroit automakers, Toyota and others in the industry is also in favor of the program. AAM CEO Dave McCurdy said, “There is no question that cash for clunkers has succeeded.”

Bill Cawthon grew up in the auto industry in the 1950s. His Dad worked for Chrysler and Bill spent a number of Saturdays down on the plant floor at Dodge Main in Hamtramck. Bill is also the U.S. market correspondent for, a British auto industry publication, and a member of the Texas Auto Writers Association, which has named the Jeep Grand Cherokee the “SUV of Texas” several times and named the Ram 1500 as the “Truck of Texas” two years running.

Bill has owned five Plymouths (including the only 1962 “Texan”), one Dodge and one Chrysler and is still trying to figure out how to justify a Wrangler. He also has owned at least one of every 1:87 scale model of a Chrysler product. You can reach him directly at (206) 888-7324 or by using the form.

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