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In what might turn out to be one of the biggest games of "he said, she said," in the history of the world, Maritz Research, an automotive market research company, is claiming that the government's Cash for Clunkers program actually boosted auto sales by much more than previously thought. Maritz is crediting the program with 765,000 new vehicle sales, higher than the 677,000 claimed by the government, and much, much higher than the 125,000 sales that Edmunds.com famously quoted. In fact, it's mor

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With 690,000 vehicles sentenced to one final gargle of sodium silicate, thanks to the now-defunct Cash for Clunkers program, demolition-derby drivers seem to have been left holding the short end of the driveshaft. What the government seems to have forgotten is that many cars, hobbling and sputtering as they near death, prefer to make one final trip to the local county fair (assuming they escape a 24 Hours of LeMons team). There, stripped of glass and with fuel tanks moved safely inward, the clun

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C.A.R.S. ended Monday night and the numbers are in. At first blush, things look positive.

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There's no arguing that the various Cash for Clunkers-style programs all around the world are intended first and foremost to spur lagging automobile sales. Environmental concerns have taken a back seat to helping automakers and dealerships move some more metal. Still, at least we know that the barely-running pollution-spewing machines are headed to the great junkyard in the sky, right?

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In the flurry to give Cash For Clunkers – sorry, C.A.R.S. – a very quick $2 billion extension last week, some of the more critical voices of the program were drowned out. At the very least, their effort was in vail. It may be too late to stop the bill from becoming law, but it's worth it to think through some of the possible unintended side effects of paying people to junk their cars.

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After a week of uncertainty and a lot of weighing in from all sides, C.A.R.S. (aka Cash For Clunkers) looks set to continue for another month, at least. The Senate confirmed the House's $2 billion funding of the incredibly popular program yesterday in a 60-37 vote, mostly on party lines. President Obama has said he will sign the bill. The money should last through Labor Day, and rumor has it that C.A.R.S. won't be extended again. In fact, one of the bill's strongest supporters, Michigan Senator

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Even without a Cash for Clunkers $2 billion extension locked in place by the Senate, the U.S. government bean counters are crediting the auto incentive for moving more than 180,000 vehicles off dealer lots. The big winner so far is Toyota, knocking Ford's Focus off the top-selling vehicle spot with its economy-oriented Corolla sedan.

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