Washington Post Mag Finds ‘Cash for Clunkers’ Harmed Demolition Derby

November 28th, 2012 2:06 PM

Cash for Clunkers, the failed Obama scheme to try to save the auto industry, is still wreaking havoc. This time on a an American pastime: demolition derby. Many in the news media applauded the clunker of a program, including The Washington Post which repeatedly praised this program in 2009, trumpeting and increase in consumer spending. But many of those stories also ignored the problems of the program.

Surprisingly, in the Nov. 21 edition of The Washington Post magazine, reporter David Montgomery wrote an article about the possible demise of demolition derby, a popular pastime in rural areas where competitors rebuild old cars in order to see which lasts the longest after they smash into one another. A number of problems are facing derby participants, including a shortage of old cars strong enough to be able to compete.

One reason, according to Montgomery’s article, was that the Cash for Clunkers program which “sent tens of thousands of future derby cars to the crusher.” That’s right, the government intervention in the auto industry prevented the future use of those cars for scrap, parts and for demolition derby.

Of course, the Post was not alone in praising Obama’s clunkers program, nor was it the only outlet  to later eat its words. In July 2009, CBS’s Nancy Cordes claimed on the “Early Show” that Cash for Clunkers had been a “runaway success” for the Obama administration. Then, in August of that year, Cordes touted that the policy was “great for the environment.” A few days later, however, “Early Show” co-host Maggie Rodriguez admitted that the program “could actually end up costing you long term.”

Cash for Clunkers was overwhelmingly praised by the media in 2009. CNBC’s Jim Cramer stated the program was “money well spent” on the “Today” show, while Katie Couric dubbed it the “much-needed head start” for automakers.

Former New York Times reporter Timothy Egan claimed in his post “Clunker Class War” that Republicans hated the programs because “it’s been far too successful” and the senators believed “President Obama must fail.”

In reality, Edmunds.com concluded that the program cost taxpayers about $24,000 each once you subtracted cars that would already have been sold (without the government program). Citing CNN Money, Edmunds said only 125,000 cars of the 690,000 sold using the program “would not have been sold anyway.”