Thank goodness this program ends tonight. While new car owners are sitting at the local pub toasting to a new taxpayer-financed car others are asking why we couldn’t have put $3 billion to better use.
Congress approved $3 billion for the Cash for Clunkers program. Because of the inability to track how much is actually being spent there are those who think total expenditures may exceed $3.5 billion. To put $3 billion into context and to further relate it to another current topic, health care reform, think about these numbers.
According to the American Cancer Society, in 2008 an estimated 566,000 men and women died of cancer. Forty-one percent, or 232,000, died of lung, breast or prostate cancer. For the three-year period between 2005 and 2007 the National Cancer Institute spent a combined $3.3 billion on research programs for these three cancers. Three years of research of the three leading causes of cancer deaths in the U.S. in exchange for one month of Cash for Clunkers.
There are many programs worthy of an additional $3 billion investment, but Cash for Clunkers was not one of them.