Tuesday, August 04, 2009

You Be A Senator
Your "cash for clunkers" program has helped send car sales suddenly upward. Buyers are lining up for the $3500-4500 rebates, trading in gas guzzlers for more efficient vehicles (61% more efficient, according to the White House). But, they are doing it so much faster than you expected when you initially voted for the program, it's about to run out of money months ahead of schedule. You could have probably set more stringent mileage limits (currently, buyers get $3500 for improving mileage by 4-10 mpg, or $4500 for improving by more than 10) and paid out a little less tax money per rebate, and had an even better success. As it is, though, a win for the economy and a modest win for the environment, right?

So, here is your dilemma: the House has already passed an extension of $2 billion and gone on break for August. The rebate program is set to run out of money by Friday, and you're set to go on your own recess after that anyway. And oh yeah your staff just told you that the House bill secured the money for their extension by taking $2 billion from a renewable energy loan program that probably would have more environmental benefit. You're not really sure how the initial estimate - that this money would fund rebates through September - could have been so far off, and there's not enough time to figure that out before recess.

You never would have been for $3 billion in a clunkers program and $2 billion less in energy loans in the first place, but that's essentially what auto dealers across the state are ringing your phone off the hook demanding you support.

What do you do?

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