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Like everywhere else on the planet, new car sales are down in Japan (17 percent versus 2008 levels, to be exact). And, like a number of other countries, Japan has decided to spur automobile sales by creating a cash-for-clunkers-style program at a cost of $3.7 billion. Unlike similar programs from other countries, including the one that ended late last year in the U.S., Japan has drafted a set of rules that strongly favors its own automakers – in effect precluding American cars from qualify

It's looking increasingly likely that the United States will soon have its own Cash-for-Clunkers program. According to The Detroit News, two bills are currently competing for Congressional votes, and while they would both offer sizable rewards for turning in older vehicles, they vary in what new cars and trucks would qualify for the program.

It's rare for the Detroit 3 automakers, the UAW and various politicians to agree on anything meaningful, but that's exactly what appears to be happening after Rep. Betty Sutton of Ohio (D) introduced a bill in Congress called Consumer Assistance to Recycle and Save bill (CARS Act) that revives the so-called "Cash for Clunkers" plan. This bill would offer consumers up to $5,000 to trade in a vehicle that's at least 8 years old in exchange for a new one built in the United States that gets at leas