Sunday, August 02, 2009

Detroit News Editorial on "Cash for Clunkers" Finds Misery in Success

Leave it to the Detroit News editorial staff to find ways to claim that government is always a failure, even when it does something good for the state and the country. Today's piece on Cash for Clunkers manages to both applaud and denounce the wildly popular program, usually in the same mind-splitting sentence. How they manage to take both sides of this issue is either a work of art or a symptom of some pathological "conservative" psychological disorder - you decide.

We agreed with Michigan's congressional delegation when the bill was passed that it was too anemic to do much real good. Congress set aside $1 billion, enough to move roughly 250,000 vehicles. Rep. Candice Miller, R-Harrison Township, had asked for at least $4 billion to incentivize up to 1 million new vehicle sales.

Little wonder that the program ran out of money almost as soon as it was launched.

This government spending was good, but it's bad because we didn't spend enough! And even though Republicans tried to block the legislation, and Candice Miller tried to run away her vote at the time as "supporting the troops"...

Miller was an ardent supporter of "cash for clunkers" language included in the bill. But she said that was "a very, very secondary consideration."

"The principal reason was that I wanted to support the troops," Miller said. "I'm always, always going to vote for the troops."

... we will now hold her up as the "profile in courage" for this program! Yea for the Republicans! So, we again establish that more spending is good...

The House rushed Friday to put an extra $2 billion into the program, and we applaud the quick action.

... but we can't really trust the government to give out the money, so it's bad!

And so far, dealers who have taken trade-ins of gas guzzlers in exchange for the government's $3,500 to $4,500 rebates have not received their promised electronic payments and aren't certain they will. The White House assured dealers that sales made through this weekend will be honored, but no one can say with any certainty whether there will be any money left.

No, wait, the idea is good! That's it! But because the government isn't perfect, it's bad!

This was a good idea poorly executed.

The program should have been more generously funded from the start, and the government should have anticipated that a financially ailing public would rush to dealers to take advantage of the free cash.

In the end, the Detroit News, who encouraged the program and always wanted to put more money into it, wants you to take away the lesson that even though this has been incredibly successful...

Perhaps there's some good in this confusion. An American public that has been lulled into believing Big Government is the answer to everything needed a reminder of just how inefficient the federal bureaucracy really is.

... we should never, ever look to the government for good things again. Because they are bad.

Or something like that.