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Victory in First "Cash for Clunkers" Battle, a Second Fight Begins

SEMA’s grassroots efforts to prevent Congress from including a nationwide “Cash for Clunkers” program in the economic stimulus package has been successful—so far. At SEMA’s request, thousands of SEMA members and SEMA Action Network (SAN) enthusiasts contacted House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in opposition to the plan.

The Speaker’s office told SEMA that your e-mails, calls and faxes were received and thanks to your work, Cash for Clunkers was not included in the economic stimulus package introduced last week in the House of Representatives. 

Unfortunately, several members of Congress did not hear the message and last week introduced separate legislation called the “Accelerated Retirement of Inefficient Vehicles Act.” This is Cash for Clunkers with a twist. Instead of focusing exclusively on older cars, this program would target “gas guzzlers” (18 mpg or less) of any model year. 

The legislation would establish a government program to use taxpayer dollars to purchase and crush vehicles into blocks of scrap metal. The cash vouchers would range from $2,500–$4,500 based on the model year and whether the replacement vehicle was a fuel-efficient new car or used car (MY 2004 or later).

Fuel-efficient is defined as getting at least 25% better mileage for the corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) target for its class. The bill sponsors want to scrap up to 1 million cars a year for at least four years.

There is no evidence that the program would achieve the goal of boosting new-car sales or increasing fuel mileage. Many states have considered scrappage programs in the past as a way to help clean the air or increase mpg, but abandoned the effort because they simply don’t work.

The programs are not cost-effective and do not achieve verifiable air-quality or fuel-economy benefits, but they do have a devastating impact on the many small businesses that market products and services for the scrapped cars. 
Two lawmakers—Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-CA) and Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA)—need to hear from SEMA members that their vehicle scrappage legislation is a waste of U.S. taxpayer dollars that will cost American jobs in the specialty auto market. For those who responded to our first call for action, we need you again, along with everyone else.

Click here for talking points and complete information.