I do a line in my act that has been often copied about if you want the government to run health care you need to spend a little more time at the DMV. However the Obama administration has given us a new benchmark in government ineptness. If you are looking forward to the government running the health care system perhaps you should look over at the CARS program. If you think that a quickly cranked out complex government program is what’s best for the economy or health care check out the so called Cash for Clunkers debacle.
The idea was simple, offer an incentive to get people out of gas guzzler cars and help boost lagging car sales. I don’t know why the auto industry was chosen for a big corporate welfare handout instead of the furniture or big screen TV folks. It may have something to do with the government owning a big hunk of the auto industry and therefore being on the hook for the future pension and health care costs. Which, if I may offer a quick civics lesson review, means that you and I are now the proud owners of the Old GM obligations?
To get back to my point, if there is anything that is hated by lawyers and government bureaucrats alike it is simplicity. I could write the rules for the program is several paragraphs but then the average consumer and auto dealer would be able to understand them and several thousand government hacks would have nothing to do. The regulations covering the program run over 140 pages! Over one hundred and forty pages on what cars are eligible for trade and purchase.
There were warning signs that this was going to be a typical government balls up. At the end of the first week of July I went to several dealerships to check out what the deal was with cashing in on welfare for the United Auto Worker. No one had a clue and the program was scheduled to start in less than two weeks. Once the program got underway the EPA started “reevaluating” the gas mileage of a number of vehicles, making some cars that had been turned in no longer eligible!
Since then the government has been rejecting hundreds of application which seem to be valid. The government has no idea how many cars have been purchased under this program. The backlog of rebates after only five days is so enormous that no one knows how much has been spent, how many cars have been purchased or if there is any money left.
Lack of money has never been a problem that the Federal Government couldn’t overcome. Te House voted to triple the amount of money for the CARS program. Why triple? Why not, that seems like a good number. There is, of course, no logic or mathematics behind the increase. Like many government numbers it was pulled from the air like a bunch of flowers in a magician’s trick.
You don’t want to look at the logic behind the whole program too deeply either. If this idea is a way to jump start the auto business why didn’t we just take the 150 plus billion we have already poured in GM and Chrysler and have a mega CARS program where we offered 10 grand to the first 1.5 million folks who wanted to buy a new car? If the idea was to reduce carbon emissions and gas usage please don’t do the math as to how little be saved by getting 250,000 people to get 5 or 6 MPG more while driving.
So think about the President saying his health care plan will be cost neutral while you are down at the DMV registering your CARS car and hoping your voucher processes properly so you aren’t on the hook for the $4500 you were promised.