Everyone's Got Good Vibes on "Cash for Clunkers"

What happened to the debate?

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A debate and a $2 billion infusion later, the locally-loved "Cash for Clunkers" program is back. As though timed to go along with the flood of funding, a breeze of good spirits is sweeping some corners of the commentariat this morning. Some writers are shrugging at the program's flaws to find reasons why it's not all bad.

  • Kick Starts American Enthusiasm for Cars says self-declared "free-market capitalist" Larry Kudlow. "Now, I wouldn't want the government to pass out free money for everything. But in this particular case, the cash-for-clunkers rebate program is working."
  • On the Balance, Good for the Environment says Bradford Plumer at The New Republic. "On balance, the program is at least doing slightly more good than harm. Not exactly a ringing endorsement, but what were you expecting?"
  • Saves Teens From SUVs says Abe Sauer at The Awl. "Not only is this popular incentive program getting SUVs off the road and making sure they are not being replaced with more of their kind, but it might also be keeping teens, for however brief a period, from killing themselves in the most American of ways."
  • Not a Waste of Money says Brad DeLong. "It doesn't look like an overwhelming benefit-cost ratio--there are other things we could be doing that are much lower hanging fruit. But I would not feel confident arguing for Andrew's position that "it is a waste of assets, and that a waste of assets necessarily makes us poorer..." without doing a bunch more work."

Of course, a majority of economists, conservatives and environmentalists remain skeptical of "Cash-for-Clunkers" long-term benefits.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.