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Did Obama announce the end of used cars?

In his speech about the GM bankruptcy yesterday, President Barack Obama (from the New York Times) said:

And that’s why I’m calling on Congress to pass fleet modernization legislation that can provide a credit to consumers who turn in old cars and purchase cleaner, more fuel-efficient cars. (emphasis added)

Turn in old cars.  It’s long been a talking point of liberals and environmentalists that cars older than a given age should be removed from the highways.  The usual mantra goes “The government should buy all cars older than X and pay the owner $750.  Then the owner could go out and buy a newer, cleaner, more efficient car.” The advocates for this position either fail or refuse to understand that the owners will not be able to find a car to buy with their $750.  Basic economics.

President Obama used the words “turn in” not “trade in.”  He will give folks a credit – I suppose that means an income tax credit – for doing this.  This sounds like the used cars will go to the government and be removed from the market.  No more used cars.  You either buy an expensive putt-putt new car

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, or you go without. It appears that he’s set out to destroy the used car market.

Update – Welcome Instapundit and Charming, Just Charming readers.   And a hat tip to Chicago Boyz for the link to a post showing the Brits have already adopted such a scheme.

{ 123 comments… add one }
  • Gringo June 2, 2009, 3:06 pm

    My 18 year old car gets nearly 30 mpg in city driving, and recently passed an emissions test with flying colors. If it ain’t broke, don’t junk it.

  • Bakatya June 2, 2009, 3:09 pm

    This would be a transfer of $750 dollars to the more well off that could already afford a new vehicle. The poor will still not be able to purchase a new vehicle. Oh well, more taxes raised to support politically connected groups.

  • Rich Vail June 2, 2009, 3:11 pm

    What I’d really like to know…is WTF are you gonna buy for $750? Even my beat up 1994 Nissan P/U is worth more than that…and it gets far better gas milage with the 15 yo four banger engine, than the new 6 bangers that are all that’s easily available on new Frontiers/Tacomas

    More to the point, I can’t afford a new car payment, or even a newer USED car payment…which is why I’ve kept my beat up old truck in the first place. I’m an unemployed cabinetmaker, barely making ends meet, and now he wants to take away my ability to even get to a job, presuming of course that I can actually find one.

  • missy magpie June 2, 2009, 3:11 pm

    this is stupid. the people who will suffer from this sort of stupidity are the poor. they do this garbage in california, where if your old car flunks the ever more stringent emissions restrictions then you either have to spend tons of money (i spent about $1,200.00, which i had to BORROW btw), or they give you $1,000.00 towards a “new” car, which based on the amount of money they give you towards a “new” car, will ensure that the following year you;ll be failing the smog test and turning that “new” car for another $1,000.00. makes a lot of sense, doesn’t it?

    note to stupid liberals: you can’t buy a decent car for $1,000.00 OR $750.00. the reason people drive old cars IS BECAUSE THEY ARE TOO POOR TO BUY NEW ONES! ^%$#@!@*&&^%$


    only the rich and the comfortably middle class can afford to be liberal.

  • epobirs June 2, 2009, 3:13 pm

    They already tried to do this in California twenty years ago. The Air Quality Management District (AQMD) implemented a sort of cap and trade system that compelled oil companies to buy up clunkers in exchange for pollution credits. On top of all the other problems, it was found that the people who were supposed to junk the cars were instead selling them to people who didn’t care about little details like registration.

    Some serious attention should be given to this sort of stuff already tried by states before they inflict it nationally.

  • French Fregoli June 2, 2009, 3:16 pm

    We are used to these schemes in Europe.
    Basicaly Goverment help Automakers churn out new cars.
    BUT, there is always some details that favors the national Auto makers (Ie size/Pollution emissions /etc)
    In Germany , goverment susidies tend to favor “bigger” german sedan models (Mercedes/BMW) by putting penalties on diesel engines.
    in France , goverment put the same penalties on “big” unleaded engines and thus favors small French made diesel engines(which in fact emitt less CO2 but MORE pollutants known as NiOx).
    I wonder where teh emphasis can be in the US to favor American cars?

  • JorgXMcKie June 2, 2009, 3:19 pm

    I thought all those touchy-feely ‘Progressive’ type claimed to be the “reality-based community.” Is there any evidence whatsoever that Obama is in contact with the real world?

  • Ed Rasimus June 2, 2009, 3:22 pm

    He can pick up my car when he comes to get my guns. Molon Labe…and V-8.

  • jmanon June 2, 2009, 3:25 pm

    I guess ending is better than mending.

  • JonSK June 2, 2009, 3:31 pm

    We’re obviously going to have to adjust. In the future, we will need to cling to our guns, religion … and suburbans.

  • Willy June 2, 2009, 3:32 pm

    Eliminating used cars, otherwise known as cheap cars, from the road will keep the poor off the road. This will increase ridership on public transportation, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and make it easier for the wealthy (equals middle class by todays standards) to get around town in their Prius.

  • gdb in central Texas June 2, 2009, 3:38 pm

    BHO got his idea from the Texas Drive a Clean Machine Program. However, nothing in that program requires an owner to accept the terms of the program. See http://www.wilco.org/aircheck to see how it works in a very conservative,red county.

  • Midwest Chick June 2, 2009, 3:44 pm

    My 17-year old Toyota Corolla was more efficient than my brand new car–30-32 miles to the gallon, even on steep hills, in cities, etc. It was pretty good on emissions also–passed every test in every state I lived in.

    What are people supposed to do if they can get a better trade in value than the tax credit would cover?? Socializing the car market is a really, really bad idea. GM and Chrysler are crashing despite the bailouts and with the government stepping in (illegally) and setting terms for their respective bankruptcies, things are going downhill rapidly.

  • storyteller June 2, 2009, 3:45 pm

    OK! I had told myself that I had sufferd through the Carter years and that as a conservative after Obama we would be back stronger than ever. So I would just bide my time and wait it out.
    But as a used car salesman at a dealership in west Texas this is starting to get personal REAL quick’! First, the Govmint kills large SUV sales with high gas prices that in turn kills GM that kills the new car side where we get our trade ins that I sell. My customers don’t have the cash flow and ALL want cheap $5000.00 used cars that used to sell for $2500.00 bucks. The kind of cars they used to buy for their kids.
    They have to buy them becasue the BANKS won’t loan them the money anymore to buy a NEW car and they can’t afford the payment anyway.
    NOW that idiot wants my cutomers to TURN IN the very cars that everybody and their dog wants to buy from ME so they can get them off the road! What the heck and I supposed to sell?
    That will make the $2500.00 car of three years ago that is now $5000.00 bucks so hard to find that they will all be around $8000.00 grand for an old junker!
    Now NO ONE can afford to buy ANYTHING! WTF!@!!!$#(&(!!!
    Somebody make this Freaking Idiot GET A CLUE!!!

  • Locomotive Breath June 2, 2009, 3:47 pm

    Think of how un-green it’s going to be to use all the natural resources to force build all those new cars, nevermind the landfill that’s going to be required for the old cars that are “turned in”.

  • kyle June 2, 2009, 3:55 pm

    Destroy the used car market? Sounds like something somebody in the new car sales market would like to have done. I’m a “buy new, drive for 200k+, then buy a new car” person. I sold a 1997 s10 4wd pickup with 219k on the clock for near 4k 2 years ago. 750 dollars for a “trade in”? Well, if you buy disposable cars it might be a good deal. I’m digging my 2008 toyota tacoma though.

    And what about cars for kids and the american red cross, taking used car donations to help fund their efforts in exchange for a tax deduction? Who would make up the shortfall? Make up a new police unit to fine owners 1000s of dollars for driving a lada with a defective wiper blade or a dent, to ensure the car buying elite keep the market turning over, and doing it in the name of the children and the environment we are just borrowing?

  • Dusty June 2, 2009, 3:57 pm

    Y’all write as if there won’t be a huge tax for buying a verboten used car. No one will be able to trade in, or buy a trade in, because of the excise tax.

    The one thing I can guarantee, is that every new program will be stuffed to the gills with hidden taxes.

  • DWPittelli June 2, 2009, 4:05 pm

    It’s a bit of a stretch to assume that Obama plans such trade-ins to be involuntary. Of course, if the payment is to be limited to $750, and voluntary, it will only succeed in buying the oldest and junkiest of cars (generally with over 10 years and 100,000 miles of service). Fortunately these tend to get the worst mileage and, even more so, to have the highest levels of pollutants (not just the CO2, but the real pollutants which make smog).

    FYI, I understand that Japan has long had a much more rigorous (and involuntary) inspection system which tends to get rid of older cars, and that right now they are planning a voluntary program that would reward drivers with about $2,500 for scrapping vehicles older than 13 years and buying a new car.

  • Jim June 2, 2009, 4:10 pm

    Time for me to install a police push-bumper on the Geezermobile (’97 Crown Vic).

    It’ll be just the thing for pushing (not so very) Smart Cars out of my way in the fast lane.

    The car has only 106k miles on it, is perfectly maintained, hauls all my gear, pulls a small trailer and gets 27 mph highway on road trips.

    No way would I trade all that for a squirrelmobile.

    Sunk New Dawn
    Galveston, TX

  • Thomass June 2, 2009, 4:11 pm

    That’s going to go over really well for people with restored classic cars….

  • kleebeit June 2, 2009, 4:20 pm

    My guess is spare parts will be next. Certain models won’t be alowed to stay on the road.It won’t be clunkers either, cuz he will want the owners who can afford to buy new.Don’t bother to tell me how it can’t happen.It just will.

  • Meremortal June 2, 2009, 4:23 pm

    Welcome to the Home of the Controlled and the Land of the Used to be Free.

  • Krenn June 2, 2009, 4:32 pm

    Barry – good to see someone else remembers “Door into Summer”. First thing I thought of too…

  • Harriet June 2, 2009, 4:34 pm

    Here in Virginia, we have a car tax. It’s painful. It comes around October, which is close to Christmas, but not as close as it used to be (people complained).

    Our new Toyota costs nearly $600 a year in a one-time yearly tax to the Commonwealth.

    Our 1997 Honda Civic costs $75.

    So I face a yearly tax bill of nearly $700 for those two cars.

    I couldn’t possibly afford a 2nd new car.

  • comatus June 2, 2009, 4:39 pm

    Well, I guess this settles the old Nixonian question:
    “Would you buy a used car from this man?”

  • luagha June 2, 2009, 5:03 pm

    The real problem is that CAFE standards in the US have been plenty high for the past 15-20 years. There just aren’t a whole lot of clunkers out there getting less than 20 mpg any more and very few of the ones that are will be addressed by this. Maybe 20 years ago this was a problem, but it’s not any more.

    It’s a traditional Obama-ism – a solution that pretends to address a major structural problem but won’t really work, like claiming that rigorous tire pressure checking will save billions of dollars in gasoline. Sure, correct tire pressure can give you a 1-3% boost in efficiency, but most modern tires don’t deflate, most oil change places check your tires for you, and so most people already have this well in hand and have for the past fifteen years.

  • Andrew_M_Garland June 2, 2009, 5:22 pm

    Savings on gasoline don’t usually pay for the increased cost of a more efficient hybrid or new technology auto.

    Politicians point to Europe as a model of overall auto efficiency. But, Europeans are more “efficient” than the US because they drive less and buy much smaller cars.

    Items from Car and Driver and an analysis of costs and savings are interesting. Your efficient car will be small, expensive, less powerful, and will not return your increased investment in gas savings. The savings claimed by the Obama administration would amount to 3.5% of US oil use, when the US auto fleet is replaced by the new cars sometime in the distant future.

    It seems Obama wants to hurry up the replacement of the auto fleet. This is easy, using other people’s money.

    Efficiency Breakthrough: Small Cars with Small Engines

  • joe June 2, 2009, 5:29 pm

    So in addition to clinging to my guns and religion, I now have to cling to my F150? I don’t want me and/or my family driving anywhere in a new Chevette from Government Motors!

  • YJLAW June 2, 2009, 5:35 pm

    Why do I see this working out with people bringing in cars worth only their scrap values, if that, and making money off of it. Hell, I could get a pretty good deal picking up every old, abandoned car and trading it in. This is another waste of the public’s money.

  • JAY June 2, 2009, 5:37 pm

    Obama will get millions of old cars this way. Everything in a junkyard that still resembles a car will be worth $750. It also establishes a floor on used car prices. No old $200 clunkers for some poor person to drive. That car is worth $750 at government reclamation centers.

  • AD June 2, 2009, 5:44 pm

    With all of these “mandated” plans in the works, it seems like a good time to go into manufacturing of a product the government will need in large quantities in the near future:
    Body Bags!

  • SamIam June 2, 2009, 5:47 pm

    Bitterly clinging to their guns, religion, and used cars.

  • Donald Sensing June 2, 2009, 5:47 pm

    “I try to get more cynical every day, but lately I just can’t keep up.”

    This is just step one. There will be more to come. The sequence will go like this:

    1. Mandate (well, dictate) that new motor vehicles achieve 35 mpg by 2016, which Obama has already done.

    2. Announce tax credits for cars older than X years taken off the road. We’ll also be told that it’s patriotic to buy a new car to help save the environment and rejuvenate the domestic auto industries.

    3. Then will come tax penalties for hanging on to cars older than so many years. Look for an excess-emissions tax like Britain has. But wait, you say, emissions testing is not done across the country or even (like here in Tennessee) everywhere in one state. Won’t matter, The emissions tax will really be an age-of-car tax, based on EPA-published averages for engines and model years. Your car’s actual, measured emissions won’t matter.

  • kentuckyliz June 2, 2009, 5:55 pm

    Obama can kiss my fat white land yacht.

  • Joe June 2, 2009, 6:18 pm

    I’m with Texas Jack, I have a garage full of pre-1960 VWs, all of which get over 25 mpg. If O-bambi thinks he’s getting them, he’ll understand the meaning of ‘sucking chest wound’.

  • ic June 2, 2009, 6:32 pm

    Obie is an incrementalist.

    Firts step “provide credits to turn in old cars” to ease the passing of “the fleet modernization legislation… purchase cleaner, more fuel-efficient cars.” The aim is to pass the legislation to replace “old” cars with “clean, more fuel-efficient cars”.

    Second step: Any pre-Govt.Motors cars are old cars. You will not be given credits but be forced into buying a new car whether you need it or not. If you think you can threaten not to return those bastards to Congress, think again. As soon as the Court is packed, things will fall into place. Remember Kelos? They can confiscate your perfectly fine home on a perfectly gorgeous location and give it to their cronies. Suing them to the Supreme Court will just waste all your savings and your pathetic life. They can let the EPA regulate your old cars, anything has emissions higher than the biddy GM car will be outlawed. Yes, folks, outlawed. You can be prosecuted as an environmental terrorist under the Environmental Security Act 2010.

  • WSL June 2, 2009, 6:38 pm

    I’ll think about buying an Obama dream car just as soon as Obama starts being transported here and there in a Ford Focus limousine. Accompanied by the Secret Service, of course.

  • Dan H. June 2, 2009, 6:38 pm

    The economic effects of this are:

    – A gradual rise in the cost of used cars, if the government truly does take them in and destroy them.
    – Some increase in the sale of new cars, as people on the margin who otherwise wouldn’t trade in their old cars for a new one now will.
    – Probably a major gaming of the system. Anyone with an old broken-down beater they don’t even use is now sitting on a $4500 asset. A market could actually arise in which old, dead cars are brought stumbling to life and then sold to people who want to use them to get the tax credit. Say you want to buy a new car, but you don’t have an old beater of your own. No problem – you buy someone else’s old beater for $2000, then turn it in to the government for a $4500 tax credit.

    – The elimination of an entire class of used cars over time – those that aren’t worth as much as the government’s tax credit. That’s going to make it very hard for the poor to drive.

    – Yet more federal debt, leading to higher taxes, higher interest rates, and other bad things.

  • Opus17 June 2, 2009, 7:11 pm

    I’m sure someone smarter than me can look up the figures and prove it, but I think there was a study in Southern California showing that 80-90% of pollution comes from the 10% oldest cars. Not talking about a 1999 Taurus here, but cars from the 70s and 80s, before catalytic converters and such. It’s not such a terrible idea to incentivize people to get rid of their junkers and hoopdies, as long as you keep the eligibility narrow enough that you have a real impact on air quality.

  • eric June 2, 2009, 7:12 pm

    As Charleton Heston once said, “From my Cold Dead Hands!”

  • Dazed June 2, 2009, 7:19 pm

    Dear Mr. President:


    Dazed in Michigan

  • Don Rodrigo June 2, 2009, 7:42 pm

    Where will these older cars go? One poster above suggested that thy’d end up in huge, pollutting scrap heaps (which is very likely, and is also where a lot of the “recycled” material ends up).

    Another option is that some of those in charge of the repo’d cars sell them to Mexican dealers, which is precisely where really old American cars go now. Yes indeed, another form of corruption created by government interference. Also, what’s going to happen to those charities that take your old car as a donation? This administration has already shown a hostility towards the whole concept of private charity, and this would be another example.

  • YP June 2, 2009, 9:33 pm

    This is a great program. My grandfather has a car sitting on his property that he’s not using. It is up on blocks with weeds growing around it. We;’d sure be happy to get $750 from Obama for that heap.

    Plus, I’m sure that there are plenty of cars that are sitting in the bottom of swamps that could be dredged up for such a program. How about those VW beetles from Mexico? The ones with the orange quarter panels. They would also be eligible if driven across the border by an illegal. We can’t limit this program to US Citizens, oh no.

  • JAL June 2, 2009, 9:57 pm

    “I publish a site that’s all about minimal consumerism and simply buying less to save money.” writes someone above who thinks Obama’s got A Plan.

    And how, exactly does buying NEW cars fit into “minimal consumerism” and “buying less?”

    My guess is that we, as a family — who recycled before it was a word — are greener than the average greenie Prius driver.

    We are savers and re-users — low level consumers — because we have never been even moderately wealthy by the usual American standards. But we have what works to make sure we are not living in neanderthal America: TVs, DVDs, cameras .. and older cars on which we make NO PAYMENTS. We haven’t had a car payment in so long I simply do not remember it. (MMmmmm thinking, thinking — 1980s on a used Volvo.) We have NEVER bought a new car. EVER. In 41 years of marriage, we have had car payments on ONE used car.

    Our newest vehicle is a 1992 F-250 diesel truck that has almost 300,000 miles on it. The current Volvo is 20+ years old and still pulls 30 mpg on the interstate. And has well over 300,000 miles. (When they provide standard shift cars again someone will re-discover how that adds a bunch of driving miles to each gallon of gas.)

    We live in the country. As do many Americans. 3+ miles before you can buy milk.

    How come “choice” in America this administration seems to be limited to abortion only? This guy is unbelievable. He makes me very tired.

  • Bill Gray June 2, 2009, 10:24 pm

    Many of my Northern Alabama neighbors have dozens of cars around the yard. It’s a ststus symbol. By offering up to $750 per vehicle Obama creates a following in an area where he has very few fans. A similar incentive to have hound dogs spayed could create an economic windfall in this part of the country.

  • Deb June 2, 2009, 11:29 pm

    Cars not needed in the gulag, comrades. Only shovels.

  • joel mackey June 3, 2009, 12:35 am

    used cars will be the new luxury car. just ask anyone driving a 2008 diesel, they all want a 2006 or earlier diesel.

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