I’m not entirely sure why Congressional Democrats govern like Newt Gingrich is going to come bursting through the door at any moment and start breaking their fingers with a ball-peen hammer if they go too far left, but they are. And it’s terrible.
Last week, Congress passed the “Cash for Clunkers” bill. It’s a simple enough premise – trade in an inefficient old car (in this case, 18 MPG or less, made in 1984 or later) and get either $3500 or $4500 towards a brand new car, depending on the mileage upgrades. Except that, well, it’s shitastic. The major problems are these: first, the definition of “clunker” excludes a lot of cars (pre-1984, 19 MPG or higher) that could easily be traded in for more fuel-efficient cars; second, by only subsidizing new car purchases, this bill effectively shuts out the vast swath of poor people driving inefficient old cars who could afford a much more efficient recent used car (such as, say, an early-decade Camry or Civic), but have neither the money nor the credit to purchase a new car; third, there’s a clause that allows you to trade in an SUV and get a $3500 credit towards a new SUV with a 2 MPG improvement, which seems, I don’t know, fucking useless; fourth, the voucher replaces instead of supplements all other trade-in deals, meaning that you need to have a largely worthless car, truck or van in order for this to make any financial sense whatsoever.
The optimal person this works for is an upper-middle class suburban empty-nester couple who bought an SUV in the mid to late 90s to cart their kids around to various practices and sleepovers and pagan rituals (because that’s what we did back then), and are now stuck with an old, inefficient second vehicle with minimal trade-in value…and really, really want a new Prius.
It’s the story of progressive legislation in this new Democratic wonderland – any even remotely good idea is Liebermanized, tempered with “moderated” language so that the least popular major political party in modern American history gets an effective preemptive veto on anything more radical than declaring puppies soft and adorable.