fresh voices from the front lines of change







Government can work, and the “Cash for Clunkers” program proved it. So, naturally, conservatives have to hate on it.

The “Cash for Clunkers” turned out to be one of the most successful government programs in some time. It was so successful that a program that was meant to take until November achieved its goals in something like a week or two! Thousands of cars were sold, helping dealerships and car companies to move toward recovery. Thousands of gas guzzlers were scrapped, helping the country move toward improved energy efficiency.

Dealers reported that their showrooms were full and their sales way up. Ford reports that the program is helping them have a strong July.

Ford Motor Co has seen a sharp increase in sales over the past week since its dealers began accepting trade-ins under the U.S. government’s “cash for clunkers” incentive program, the automaker’s U.S. sales chief said on Thursday.

The only problem with the program was that so many people are taking advantage of it that the computer system got slowed down!

Yes, the program achieved its goals in record time. So the House has approved an additional $2 billion and the Senate should take it up this week. This means even more help to dealerships and manufacturers and even more fuel economy for the country!

What could be wrong with that?

Well if you are a conservative, plenty is wrong with that. First of all it makes government look good — and conservatives just hate government. Government is those people who get in the way and tell companies they can’t pour toxins into our rivers. Government is those people who show up and ask big companies to share what they make — after building the roads and courts and schools that enabled them to do so well. That goes against everything conservatives stand for: dirty rivers, big corporations doing and taking anything they want for free, etc.

Mostly, though, a big success like this comes at exactly the wrong time for conservatives. Right now conservatives are fighting tooth and nail to keep We, the People from passing health care reform in a way that chooses better care and lower costs for the people over higher profits and CEO pay for insurance companies. So right now it is vitally important to discredit the idea that government can do things right.

So just as it starts to become clear that the government has a winner on its hands, we start to see reports in the conservative media — Drudge Report, right-wing blogs, talk radio, FOX News, etc. — that call the program a failure. In fact, many of these stories coincidentally seem to use almost the same wording! The lesson they all teach is this failure shows what will happen if we pass health care reform.

So draw your own lessons. Was a program that wildly overachieved its goals, stimulated the economy, improved the country’s fuel efficiency and brought a great price for a new car to tens of thousands of Americas a success or not? I say it was, and I say it shows why we want a public option choice in the health care reform!

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