Brookings: Cash for clunkers was a clunker

Matt K. Lewis Senior Contributor
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This morning, I wrote about the Utopian visions and Rube Goldberg schemes associated with liberalism. Perhaps there was no better example than 2009’s cash for clunkers program. As Allahpundit observed at the time: “Rarely do you encounter a wealth-destroying green measure that literally destroys wealth but this is an exception and therefore a sweet, sweet metaphor for Obamanomics.”

As we expected, the program wasn’t a huge success. According to a new Brookings evaluation of the program, “The Car Allowance Rebate System (CARS) or ‘cash for clunkers’ program, launched during the height of the recession with the intention of stimulating the economy, creating jobs, and reducing emissions, was actually far more expensive per job created than alternative fiscal stimulus programs.”

But, you might ask, what about the environmental benefits of getting old cars off the streets? “Total emissions reduction was not substantial because only about half a percent of all vehicles in the United States were the new, more energy-efficient CARS vehicles.”

But surely someone benefitted. So who did take advantage of the program? “[C]ompared to households that purchased a new or used vehicle in 2009 without a voucher, CARS program participants had a higher before-tax income, were older, more likely to be white, more likely to own a home, and more likely to have a high-school and a college degree.” Read the whole thing here.

Matt K. Lewis