American Elephants

Great Effort To Pass a Law. No Interest in Follow-Through by The Elephant's Child

Have you noticed that Liberals are very big on getting their “big ideas” passed into law, and once accomplished have little interest in their effect. Vast attention is paid to “messaging,” to the words chosen, everything is focus-group tested. Wordsmiths are urged on to ever more effort to find the perfect words. Differing messaging is planned for different groups. Outreach is carefully directed to specific audiences. But once they succeed, if they succeed, in getting the legislation passed and it is a done deal— they lose interest and go on to the next “big idea.”

Medicare was a big idea that they were very proud of. Seniors like it, and it works fairly well. But it is a done deal, so Liberals have no hesitation in, for example, taking $500 billion out of Medicare to prop up ObamaCare. The Veterans Administration promised health care to veterans, but when claims piled up, they just destroyed the older claims so the backlog would disappear. When slums became too dangerous Liberals built public housing, but failed to keep it up, keep it in good repair and safe, so the public housing became slums.

The promises of ObamaCare have already proved false, but people who receive their health care through their employers have yet to encounter the lies, cancellations, and the higher costs. Obama has postponed all that till after the coming election. So most people are  unaware that their ObamaCare insurance does not travel, not to the next town, and not to the next state. They are unaware that they will not be able to keep their doctors, nor that the cost will increase astronomically.

Democrat governors met with President Obama this last weekend — they need help selling ObamaCare. They have their own glitch-ridden websites, and the big message of pre-existing conditions isn’t selling. But the drive is to get people signed up, not to offer care. If all the ‘uninsured’ signed up for Medicaid, the illusionary system would collapse. There were not enough doctors who would accept Medicaid patients to keep the system functioning before ObamaCare.

Liberal promises are meant to garner votes, to get a “big idea” passed and the people dependent on the benefit. If they are dependent they will continue to vote for those who gave them the benefit lest they lose it and face the unknown. Freedom can be scary. You might have to depend on  your own efforts.


“Cash for Clunkers” Is Over, but The Memory Lingers On. by The Elephant's Child
August 26, 2009, 6:22 pm
Filed under: Capitalism, Economy, Environment, Taxes | Tags: , ,

The Obama administration’s Car Allowance Rebate System (CARS) better known as “Cash For Clunkers” has ended.  It was designed to provide benefits by reducing greenhouse gases, and stimulating the economy.  To encourage new automobile sales at the newly taxpayer, Fiat and Union-owned  companies, the government gave $3,500 or $4,500 to motorists when they brought in an older car to trade for a new vehicle.  The bill only rewarded those who owned gas guzzlers of  little value.

The EPA spent a month evaluating  30,000 models made between 1984 and 2004 and decided that only about 8,000 — that get 18 mpg or less — would qualify.  Oddly enough, it didn’t matter how big a difference there was between the old car and the new one.  You could get a subsidy if you traded an 18 mpg car for one that gets 22 mpg, but not if you traded a 19 mpg car for one that gets 42 mpg.

Of course this was just robbing Peter taxpayers to pay someone who could afford to buy a new car right now.  Used cars worth more than the subsidy were not eligible, which rewarded those who chose to buy a gas guzzler the last time.

Those who understand the details of CO2 emissions pointed out that any environmental benefit was simply too small to be measured, so claims for the benefits of the programs shifted to the economic benefits of stimulating new car sales. Or did this just push forward new car sales that would have been made soon anyway?

Then there were all the consequences that nobody thought of.  The subsidy was to be distributed only when the old car was destroyed.  Mechanics assigned to destroy the so-called clunkers have posted videos on YouTube, muttering in anger as they fill the engines of perfectly good Corvettes and Cadillacs with sodium silicate and run them until they self-destruct.

Today’s old cars are tomorrow’s valued classics.  Destroying old cars damages used car sales by eliminating inventory, and probably will  put some used car dealers out of business.  Used car prices will skyrocket.  This also harms the poor who need cheap transportation.  Those who make their living from selling used car parts complained loudly to the right people and got the law changed so just engines were to be destroyed. The program has undoubtedly been a net destroyer of wealth.

Many charities depend on donations of older cars which they are able to part out.  There has been a 12 percent decline in donations, devastating to the funds charities depend on to provide help for the needy.

The initial $1 billion was exhausted in a week, so Congress added another $2 billion, and the program that was expected to last through the fall, ended Monday.  The administration was unprepared to deal with all the applications for rebates.  250,000 cars were sold in the first four days.

Dealers were worried that they would not be able to be repaid before funds ran out.  The Transportation Dept. had processed only about 2 percent of applications.  Many were being turned down.  They hired people from the FAA and CitiGroup to process claims, asking them to come in over the weekend to attempt to catch up, and then notified them not to come in because the system was down until Monday.

Now, it turns out that the $4,500 rebate is fully taxable as regular income.

This was a small $3 billion program that demonstrated nothing so much as the incompetence of the federal government in administering a simple congressional appropriation.

These are the people who want to completely reform the best health care system on earth, which serves 330 million people, and which will add at least 2 trillion to the deficit.They assure us that they know just how to do it; that it will save money;  offer better care;  insure 47 million more people; insure all pre-existing conditions; and not only cost less but rescue the rest of the economy.  That sounds like a real clunker to me.

Crackpot Economics, Crackpot Environmentalism and Congress. by The Elephant's Child
August 16, 2009, 11:06 pm
Filed under: Economy, Energy, Environment | Tags: , ,


If you want a serious reason to oppose ObamaCare, take a look at the “Cash for Clunkers” program.  Officially it is known as the Car Allowance Rebate System (CARS) and it even has its own cute little logo with an automobile symbol in place of the ‘A’.  It was initially part of the Waxman-Markey climate bill that was spun off as separate legislation.  It was initially intended to encourage drivers to trade in older less fuel-efficient  cars for new cars with better fuel economy,  bringing car buyers into empty showrooms and lowering the fuel consumption of the American automotive fleet.

What it does establish is that Americans are not stupid.  When they are offered $4500 of someone else’s money — which on some models can be 1/4 of the price —  to buy a car, they take it.  The $1 billion of taxpayer money appropriated by Congress was exhausted within a week.  So Congress has appropriated another $2 billion.

One of the immediate problems is that the cars that are turned in are required to be crushed immediately.  Most would be perfectly good used cars for those who cannot afford a new car.  But removing them from use will starve the used-car market of inventory, thus driving up the price of used cars and probably bankrupting some small used car dealers. And then there is the parts question, for there is a big market for used car parts.  It is not known if there is a market at present for the scrap metal from the crushed cars.

It is also not known if there is any environmental benefit to the program.  The amount of carbon dioxide that is foregone by replacing cars with higher fuel consumption may well be insignificant compared to the energy required to crush and process the clunkers.  And if the newer vehicles are driven more and farther than the old ones — is there any net reduction in CO2?  And even if there is, the affect of  lowered CO2 may be insignificant in the atmosphere, since most of the CO2 in the atmosphere arises from the oceans, not our tailpipes.

CO2 is not a pollutant, contrary to a misguided ruling by the Supreme Court.  It is a colorless, odorless gas that is natural plant food, and essential to life.  The optimum amount of  CO2 in the atmosphere is about 1000 ppm, the current amount is around 400 ppm.  CO2 is only a trace gas in the atmosphere.

If all that was not enough, it seems that  Dealers are not being repaid for the $4500 they have advanced to car buyers.   Congress has supposedly appropriated the money,  but auto dealers haven seen any money, and it’s hurting.

Were the people who are rushing out to buy new cars with the benefit of $4500 of taxpayer dollars going to buy new cars anyway?  This is crackpot economics.  And it’s catching.  New Jersey and Vermont are now offering subsidies for those who turn in their old refrigerators and freezers.

Meanwhile, senators are considering a permanent clunkers program.  After all, it’s only money and  it is so very popular.  But then Paul always enjoys the gift of  Peter’s money.

ADDENDUM: Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Pa) has said that the government has only reimbursed 2 percent of dealers , and that 4 our of 5 applications have been rejected for “minor oversight.” The government has only 225  people processing the claims at the Department of Transportation.  They need 1,000 said Sestak.  Gosh, they cannot handle the original billion dollars worth of claims with two more billion to go.  And they are ever so sure they can handle the health insurance claims for 220 million people?  Where is the evidence of any kind of success at that, ever?

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