According to a Brookings evaluation of the Car Allowance Rebate System (CARS), more commonly known as Cash for Clunkers, the $2.85-billion program cost taxpayers $1.4 million for each of the 3,676 jobs created by it from June to December 2009. The White House reportedly estimated that the program would create 70,000 jobs. Additionally, the evaluation states that more effective alternative fiscal stimulus policies could have been implemented instead of CARS.

The Cash for Clunkers program, in a nutshell, worked like this: if a vehicle was less than 25 years old and met eligibility requirements for fuel economy, the owner could trade in the vehicle, receive a voucher of either $3,500 or $4,500 from the government, and then use the voucher to purchase or lease a new vehicle with better fuel economy. The trade-in vehicles, which were required to be in running condition, then had their engines destroyed. The program was supposed to help stimulate the economy by spurring new-car sales, which would then help create new jobs - and it did. But the cost was just much higher than expected.

Americans traded in about 678,000 vehicles during CARS, and new vehicle sales went up during the program by 14 percent in July 2009 and 28 percent the following August. That equaled a boost of 380,000 vehicle sales, but the evaluation concludes that those sales would have occurred in subsequent months, without help from Cash for Clunkers. The sales rate dropped to pre-program levels after the program expired in September, according to Brookings.

CARS did achieve its other goal of reducing the number of fuel-inefficient cars on the road, but that impact also was negligible, as the new, green, fuel-efficient cars bought within the program reportedly represented about half of a percent of all vehicles in the US.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 178 Comments
      Chris
      • 1 Year Ago
      Exactly how was a program that only lasted a few months supposed to create 70,000 jobs? For arguments sake, let's just say that it was successful in creating in putting that many people back to work. What did they expect would happen once the program ended, that those 70,000 people would get to keep their jobs? The case made for this was nothing more than another political sales pitch. The end result was that it cost taxpayers $2.85 billion, and resulted in a lot of perfectly good cars being destroyed for no real good reason. Back when CFC was going on, I drove through many backlots of dealerships, and trust me, most of the vehicles back there were far from being "clunkers". It nearly killed me when I saw all of the pristine looking late 90s-early 2000s Cherokees behind the the Hyundai dealership near me.
        brandon
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Chris
        Hey, a rational person. That's a rarity these days.
      Justin
      • 1 Year Ago
      I personally know a few people that had cars in pretty good shape that met the requirement for this program. They all used it as an opportunity to get out of older gas guzzlers and into a new car. One friend had a '99 Cherokee that was in great condition, traded it for an Elantra. Back then that Cherokee would have fetched less than the voucher amount, but would probably fetch more in today's market.
        Bradford
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Justin
        Turning in an XJ for Cash for Clunkers qualifies as a sin. Trading it in for an Elantra upgrades it to a mortal sin.
          Chris
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Bradford
          Sending an XJ to untimely death is a mortal sin, PERIOD!! Sadly, his friend is not alone as the Cherokee was one of the vehicles that was most commonly turned in on that silly program. Back in 2009, I saw plenty of pristine examples carelessly parked right up against other "clunkers", and saw many more at the junkyard that Fall. Even to this day, there are still plenty of clean Cherokees being driven to scrap yards, and being left there by clueless, lazy jackasses for a few hundred measly bucks in scrap value. It kills me with some of the things that fall victim to our society's throwaway mentality.
        Basil Exposition
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Justin
        Ugh a 99 Cherokee in great condition to the crusher? And for a shitty Elantra? You are breaking my heart. your anicdote shows how very wrong this program was.
        Chris
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Justin
        No offense, but your friend who sent a perfectly good XJ to the crusher so he could buy a new Hyundai Elantra is a dolt who had no business owning a Jeep Cherokee XJ in the first place. If such a program existed 30 years ago then I'd equate what he did to sending a late 60s, early 70s Chevelle SS that was in great condition to an untimely death for a couple grand down on a brand new Ford Tempo because I have a feeling that XJs will still have a place in the hearts and minds of auto and off-road enthusiasts long after that Elantra's found its resting place in some junkyard. Now for some positive news, did you at least do to him what many of us would like to and kick him in the nuts with a good pair of steel-toe work boots?
      CJ_313
      • 1 Year Ago
      I actually took advantage of the Cash For Clunkers program when I bought my wife's previous new car (2009 Pontiac G3), which we recently traded in for a '14 Fiesta sedan at a very small loss compared to what I purchased it for brand new (thanks to the voucher). We were perfectly capable of buying a new car without the program's assistance, but likely would never have made a new car purchase had it not been for it (I traded in my old '91 F-150 work truck which I rarely used anymore anyway, and was probably only worth $1,000 max if I threw it on Craigslist). The only thing that Cash for Clunkers did with any certainty, was give buyers positive equity in their new vehicles.
      • 1 Year Ago
      [blocked]
        johnb
        • 1 Year Ago
        zip, zilch, nada. not a single positive can be found. oh well, maybe next time.
          Seal Rchin
          • 1 Year Ago
          @johnb
          Well if you are a who*re now taxpayer will cover your condoms and morning after pills.................so at least they are better off.
          Terry Actill
          • 1 Year Ago
          @johnb
          Seal Rchin proved himself on the Vick story thread to be a nasty human being. And the same if not worse here. Another woman hating, probably bigoted nasty piece of work. I am reporting your comment so hopefully it's deleted.
          Seal Rchin
          • 1 Year Ago
          @johnb
          Terry, pastrami on rye, some mustard............hold the conversation. Daddy had a rough day.
        CoolWaters
        • 1 Year Ago
        Says more about you, your completely uninformed views of politics, then it says about Obama. Shock, Republicans are so lazy they won't look anything up on the INTERNET they sending messages across.
      CoolWaters
      • 1 Year Ago
      Something else Fox "News" isn't telling you. Your House Republicans are Wall Street Ho's. They are rolling back Dodd-Frank legislation to allow the big banks to trade in derivatives AND be Protected by Government MONEY, if the banks fail again. http://news.firedoglake.com/2013/11/01/house-votes-to-rollback-wall-street-regulations/ Gee, it looks like Fox News' real roll is to incite hatred of Obama, while REPUBLICANS ROB YOU BLIND.
        David
        • 1 Year Ago
        @CoolWaters
        I thought it was Obama that bailed out the banks most recently. CARS was merely a back-door pay-off to Obama's Union supporters- I pay you and you pay me back. Clearly the fact that CARS was an utter failure has touched a nerve; why else would Mr. Cool attempt to misdirect? I wonder if Mr. Cool Obama supporter has received his health insurance cancellation notice yet? You might want to venture beyond your liberal hack websites before it is too late.
        Neez
        • 1 Year Ago
        @CoolWaters
        I'd rather be robbed blind than be robbed knowingly, seeing my tax dollars go to lazy people that don't want to work.
        stonehunte
        • 1 Year Ago
        @CoolWaters
        You're not very bright are you? You should really look into getting an education. An economics class would be a good start.
      That Guy
      • 1 Year Ago
      And now we are witnessing the a much higher level of failure with Oblameo Care. When incompetent blowhards are running this country, this is what happens. Time to get the libs out of office and back home eating their granola.
        Joeviocoe
        • 1 Year Ago
        @That Guy
        And when the Tea Party fills in the void after 'libs' go home?? Will you be eating your hat with their own brand of incompetence?
          Joeviocoe
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Joeviocoe
          just because you don't "call yourself" a Tea Party nut. Doesn't mean you don't have their ideals.
          dave and mary
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Joeviocoe
          Boy if that isn't a typical liberal response. Change the subject; turn it into someone else's fault instead of the reality of what's happening with golden boy in office.
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Joeviocoe
          [blocked]
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Joeviocoe
          [blocked]
        King of Eldorado
        • 1 Year Ago
        @That Guy
        FYI about "Oblameo Care": Every possible "Ob-something, something-lame-wordplay-ama" variation was officially declared played out, used up, over, finished, done with, tired, trite, and dumb as of Wednesday of last week. So stop it.
      CoolWaters
      • 1 Year Ago
      Texas Republicans having a hard time getting Election Fraud right. http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2013/11/01/2875901/texas-voter-abbott-affidavit/
        stonehunte
        • 1 Year Ago
        @CoolWaters
        Nobody has election fraud down quite as well as the democrats. Obama's hometown politicians have more experience than just about anyone.
      CoolWaters
      • 1 Year Ago
      Since the poorly informed "right" is in the house: German hits 59% of power generation with Solar and Wind: http://climatecrocks.com/2013/11/02/newsflash-germany-again-59-percent-renewable-sky-not-falling/ Federal Gov Employment at 47 year low: http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/10/22/bloated-government-federal-employment-at-47-year-low/?_r=0 Right Wing Billionaires are TARGETING YOUR Social Security http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-kuttner/stanley-druckenmiller-social-security_b_4133863.html Just so you know, what you're NEVER going to hear on Fox "News".
        john96xlt
        • 1 Year Ago
        @CoolWaters
        Deflecting, much?
        CoolWaters
        • 1 Year Ago
        @CoolWaters
        When you come on autobloggreen with your vastly uninformed opinions they you invite yourself to some real world information.
      2 wheeled menace
      • 1 Year Ago
      So you're telling me that spending 2,850 million dollars destroying about 3 million dollars worth of property doesn't make for a net gain in the economy? Gee, who would have thought!!!!!! :)
        EZEE
        • 1 Year Ago
        @2 wheeled menace
        And 2wheel....the saddest part about it was, it took so many good, low cost vehicles out of the market that could have been purchased by hard working disadvantaged people of color, who couldn't afford a new car. The used car prices were then driven upwards, this depriving hard working deprived disadvantaged people of color the right of transportation. Why people would support this racist plan, that unfairly targeted well meaning hard working people of color in the inner city, is beyond me. We need to stamp out this klan like hate that people have of people of color now.
          Hoale
          • 1 Year Ago
          @EZEE
          People of color? All people have color so just say "people".
          Marcopolo
          • 1 Year Ago
          @EZEE
          @ Hoale Typical melanist bigotry ! Albino's are people too !
          EZEE
          • 1 Year Ago
          @EZEE
          Melanist lol....
      Car Guy
      • 1 Year Ago
      Other than killing Ben Laden, everything this President had touched has been a bust.
        Shiftright
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Car Guy
        Please put away your biases and inform yourself
        stonehunte
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Car Guy
        You're right Obama is trash and is destroying this country. Unfortunately this site is filled with mindless liberals who believe everything MSNBC tells them about their dear leader.
        CoolWaters
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Car Guy
        http://www.bspcn.com/2010/10/18/things-obama-has-done/
          Nick Kordich
          • 1 Year Ago
          @CoolWaters
          "10. Attractive tax write-offs for those who buy hybrid automobiles" "80. Provided attractive tax write-offs for those who buy hybrid automobiles." It looks like you accidentally linked to something relevant to Autoblog. Unfortunately, it's inaccurate. The Energy Policy Act of 2005 provided the tax credit for hybrid vehicles and was signed into law by then-President George W. Bush. There's a sunset provision: after a certain number of a vehicle are sold, it would no longer qualify for the tax credit. The idea is that a sufficiently popular model has shown it can stand on its own. As a result, the last time a (non-plug-in) Prius was eligible for the tax credit was October 1st, 2007. Then-Senator Obama did vote Yea, but then so did Senators Graham, Grassley, Hatch, Santorum and Thune. Nays included Senators Biden, Boxer, Feinstein, Kennedy, Kerry and McCain. It passed 85-12, with fairly bi-partisan support, though a larger share of the dissenting votes were Democrats. The bill was over a thousand pages long when it was introduced by Texas Senator Joe Barton. I haven't gone through every amendment, but it looks like the hybrid tax credit was introduced by Senator Carl Levin (D) of Michigan. Then-Senator Obama did propose an amendment to the bill, but it was for $10 million to go to Chicago for a project to demonstrate how to burn coal while generating less mercury pollution. http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/F?r109:1:./temp/~r109KvS3KO:e494268: There is a current $7500 plug-in vehicle credit introduced in the Energy Improvement and Extension Act of 2008, but that too was signed into law by then-President Bush. Then-Senator Obama didn't vote on that particular bill (neither did Senator McCain - both were otherwise occupied in September 2008). While President Obama did propose increasing the credit (up to $10,000 in vehicles under a certain amount) and making it a point of sale credit (simplifying the process for buyers), these were both parts of his budget proposal and seem unlikely to be implemented.
      truckguy
      • 1 Year Ago
      O.... Nothing positive with this president over the last ? You better wake up. 9-11 would never of happen. - Stopped all road work - Bridges being replaced - Major school updates - I don't think I need say more, unless we have any more of those.
        john96xlt
        • 1 Year Ago
        @truckguy
        What the hell do you mean that "9/11 never would of happen"? Besides sounding like a total idiot by the way you type, you sound like a total idiot by what you type!
          brandon
          • 1 Year Ago
          @john96xlt
          I don't even have a clue what he is trying to say. I'm pretty sure he was drooling all over his keyboard while typing that.
          CoolWaters
          • 1 Year Ago
          @john96xlt
          Obama wouldn't have been asleep on the job. The Clinton team Warned them about Osama. Obama Got Osama.
      Naturenut99
      • 1 Year Ago
      Absolute BS. NOTHING was selling at that point and the idea that they (BI) think those cars still would've sold in the next couple months after it is BS. Nothing was selling. The only way anything sold at that point was CFC.
        JB
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Naturenut99
        Yeah right. Boondoggle. Economically retarded. They should of just air dropped green backs over the country side.
          LW
          • 1 Year Ago
          @JB
          RGT881: With the U$D being the wold reserve currency by happenstance, the fed could QE to infinity and print $$ with no fear of reprisal. All that money will just go to wa11 st so they could go and create bubbles somewhere.
          LW
          • 1 Year Ago
          @JB
          ha, apparently that's what the feds have been doing the last few years with QE and QE2, plus 0% bank rate for the banks is basically just that.
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