Cash-for-Clunkers, R.I.P.

Rich Galen
By Rich Galen | July 31, 2009 | 8:51 AM EDT

The Cash-for-Clunkers program started on Saturday and ended last night at midnight.
Why? Too successful.
According to Congressional sources the program - which paid people who drive old, gas guzzling vehicles between $3,500 and $4,500 to turn that beast in and get, in return, a bright, shiny, new, leather-smelling, gas-saving, car - has used up about $850 million of the $1 billion which had been budgeted.
According to, the program was "set to end on Nov. 1, or whenever its $1 billion budget has been depleted."
That would be today.
Close followers of MULLINGS may have detected, by reading between the lines, and picking up on the very subtle (hidden, really) clues that I, myself, may possibly have availed myself of this very program.
Of course I did. I wrote about it. On Saturday I traded in the Mullmobile - a 1999 Land Rover Discovery - for a 2009 Ford Focus (now dubbed the Mullford).
The program officially began on July 1, but the rules and regulations were not finalized (they ended up being 135-pages long) until late last week so Saturday was effectively the first day you (or, more to the point, I) could walk into a showroom and take advantage of it.
What happened was, dealers figured out that there would be some point at which the switch would be thrown, so they began making deals shortly after the program started with the understanding that those sales could be officially consummated at some point in July.
Thus, it is the backlog of cars turned in for the Barack Bucks which have just about depleted the fund, not just the last five days of sales.
According to the AP, the geniuses at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration which administers the program raised "concerns that with about 23,000 dealers taking part in the program, auto dealers may already have surpassed the 250,000 vehicle sales funded by the $1 billion program."
The House and Senate are scheduled to go into their well-deserved and long-overdue August recess this afternoon, so, unless they stay in over the weekend to fix this, any more money for this program will have to wait until the Members return, tanned, rested, and ready to spend more money sometime after Labor Day.
New Topic
Barack Obama and Joe Biden hosted a pretend garden party for Henry Louis "Skip" Gates Jr. and Cambridge police Sgt. James "James" Crowley. You know the story. Gates tried to break into his own house, lost his temper when the cops were called, and got himself arrested for acting out like a spoiled teenager.
Obama, knowing nothing of the facts in the case, said that the police had acted "stupidly."
After heads more reasonable than Obama's thought things over, they had Obama call Crowley who, apparently, invited himself over to the WH for a beer. Obama couldn't just invite the White guy, so he invited Henry Louis "Skip" Gates Jr. too, and yesterday was the day.
The reality is, this story has run its course. Unless someone sues someone - or one of the participants gets a book deal out of it - it's done.
What will not go away, however, is the memory of how quickly Obama's "us versus them" mindset kicked into high gear when he thought a Black man had been put upon by a White cop.
It is an important insight into how Obama sees the nation and, in turn, how he sees the United States' role in the world.
Last Topic
Speaking of how he sees the world, Barack Obama & family are heading off to Martha's Vineyard for their summer vacation renting a farm which goes for between $20,000 and $35,000 per week.
You know that swell idea of the Obama Administration to tax high-end health insurance plans? How about let's slap a luxury tax on anyone who spends more than the price of a hotel in Pompano Beach, Florida per week for their summer vacation.
"Us versus them" apparently only counts when the "us" isn't the Obamas.
On the Secret Decoder Ring today: Links to the C-f-C suspension, the garden party and the Martha's Vineyard deal. Also a Mullfoto which made me broadly smile and a Catchy Caption of the Day.