CBS Finally Acknowledges Problems With ‘Cash for Clunkers’

Terrell Brown, CBS After touting the ‘Cash for Clunkers’ program as a "runaway success" and "great for the environment," Friday’s CBS Early Show finally reported on problems with the plan as co-host Maggie Rodriguez declared: "And find out why the ‘Cash for Clunkers’ program could actually end up costing you long term."

While previous Early Show segments on the plan gave only passing attention to its critics, Rodriguez began Friday’s story by explaining: "Congress has passed a $2 billion extension for the popular ‘Cash for Clunkers’ program, but some critics are being vocal this morning, saying it may not be such a good idea after all." Correspondent Terrell Brown reported: "‘Cash for Clunkers’ is said to be environmentally friendly, but some are trashing the new government program....Recyclers say some salvaged car engines are still valuable. Instead, they’re being needlessly destroyed." One wonders why CBS did not highlight this criticism before the government spent another $2 billion on the program.

Brown went on to describe the car-destroying process: "Dealers are told to destroy the engine by replacing oil with sodium silicate and then running it....With the engine destroyed, many cars bypass the part recyclers and go straight to the salvage yards." The report featured the vice president of the Automotive Recylers Association, Michael Wilson: "We think a much more efficient program would have been to encourage recycled parts usage....All those parts that could have been reused will go right to a scrap processor."

At the end of the segment, Brown activated a car-crushing machine at a salvage yard, excitedly declaring: "That was so cool. Maggie, I could do this all day long....can I do this again? I’ve got to get rid of this remote because I could do this all day." Rodriguez added: "Alright, now that they’ve extended this, they’re going to be very busy doing that kind of thing."

Here is a full transcript of the segment:

7:00AM TEASE:

MAGGIE RODRIGUEZ: And find out why the ‘Cash for Clunkers’ program could actually end up costing you long term.

7:05AM SEGMENT:

MAGGIE RODRIGUEZ: Congress has passed a $2 billion extension for the popular ‘Cash for Clunkers’ program, but some critics are being vocal this morning, saying it may not be such a good idea after all. CBS News correspondent Terrell Brown is in Elmsford, New York, with more. Good morning, Terrell.

TERRELL BROWN: Hey there, Maggie, good morning to you. We’re at a scrap yard this morning. And all of the cars out here are clunkers. This Ford F150, that Jeep Cherokee, and these three guys over here. So business at this scrap yard is going fairly well. 60 Cars have been brought in since the program got started. And another 15 or 16 came in yesterday. But it’s auto part recyclers that say that this program is putting a dent in their profits. More crushed cars and new scrap metal. ‘Cash for Clunkers’ is said to be environmentally friendly, but some are trashing the new government program.

MICHAEL WILSON [VICE PRESIDENT, AUTOMOTIVE RECYCLERS ASSOCIATION]: We think a much more efficient program would have been to encourage recycled parts usage.

BROWN: Recyclers say some salvaged car engines are still valuable. Instead, they’re being needlessly destroyed.

WILSON: Based on the rule, no part from that engine can be sold.

BROWN: The ‘Cash for Clunkers’ program requires that all cars either be crushed or shredded. Some car parts can be salvaged before that happens, but not the engine. Dealers are told to destroy the engine by replacing oil with sodium silicate and then running it. What’s its value after that?

TIM MALONE [BROOKFIELD AUTO WRECKERS]: After that, it’s just scrap metal.

BROWN: With the engine destroyed, many cars bypass the part recyclers and go straight to the salvage yards.

WILSON: All those parts that could have been reused will go right to a scrap processor.

BROWN: A sad fate, even for a clunker. And the engines in these cars have to be destroyed. One, the government wants to keep these cars off of the road, keep them from being resold. And also it’s an effort to get more fuel-efficient cars on the road. Now, in the process of getting cars recycled, they end up at a place like this, and this is what ends up happening here. Take a look at this, Maggie (activates car crusher by remote control). That was so cool. Maggie, I could do this all day long. Tim, can I do this again? I’ve got to get rid of this remote because I could do this all day. Guys, I’ll send it back inside to you.

RODRIGUEZ: Alright, now that they’ve extended this, they’re going to be very busy doing that kind of thing. CBS’s Terrell Brown. Thanks a lot Terrell.

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC