Birthday celebrant Barack Obama had 57 of his favorite healthy Democratic senators over for lunch, and it was said beforehand that one of his priorities was to get solid backing from the group to ratify the House’s $2B infusion of funding into the Cash for Clunkers program.
The program has enjoyed a great deal of popularity, particularly among citizens who happen to have a clunker, the automakers and dealers who have fuel efficient cars to sell and the media who have been starved for months from a lack of automotive advertising.
Although some Senate Republicans have been making noises in opposition to the extension, notably Jim DeMint (R-SC), who said that the government should not be in the used car business, the program seems to have engendered even more opposition from some Democrats who want to toughen the mpg qualifications on both ends – lowering the efficiency level of clunkers accepted and raising the efficiency of news cars eligible to be sold.
Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) is expected to try to get the deal done during this jam-packed final week before August recess, and must try to do so without amendment since the House is already gone and is therefore not available to ratify any senatorial tweaks. The program is expected to run out of cash by the end of this week.
RBR/TVBR observation: If this program follows the pattern established by European nations that have adopted it, it will likely come back around for return engagements, and they can be tweaked. But for now, Senate, just keep it going while it’s hot.