ESPN writer rips politicians on Cash for Clunkers hypocrisy

Victor Joecks

This hilarious piece is written by one of my favorite writers, Gregg Easterbrook. He’s also known as Tuesday Morning Quarterback, and he’s a sports columnist for ESPN.

While he generally writes about sports, his columns often include thoughts on politics. His recent piece on the foolishness of Cash for Clunkers and excessive government spending is brilliant.

Ideal Government Program — Build New Clunkers, Then Immediately Junk Them: Can anyone explain why American taxpayers are being taxed, via the Cash for Clunkers program, to subsidize the destruction of low-mileage cars — while simultaneously being taxed to support General Motors, which just released a 426-horsepower, 16-mpg Camaro to complement its 556-horsepower, 15-mpg Cadillac? Under the Cash for Clunkers mileage rules, both cars classify as clunkers! Taxpayers are simultaneously paying to destroy old low-mileage cars and build new low-mileage cars. Check the Detroit-manufactured cars listed by the EPA as “worst in class” for fuel waste — you are being taxed to subsidize the building and promotion of these cars. Plus, the White House and many in Congress want to begin restricting greenhouse gases. I think action against greenhouse gases is scientifically justified [Editor’s note: Obligatory counter evidence]. But if greenhouse gas regulation is enacted, you will simultaneously be taxed to reduce greenhouse gases and taxed to support construction of polluting machines such as the 556-horsepower Cadillac, which the EPA says emits 11 tons of greenhouse gases per year, one of the worst global-warming scores of any current passenger vehicle. General Motors has started to build high-quality, good-mileage cars, including the new Malibu and the new fuel-efficient Equinox SUV. That’s good news. Why are average people being taxed to subsidize everything General Motors builds, including wasteful, high-polluting rich men’s playthings like this?

Meanwhile, auto dealers who credited customers with $4,500 for clunker deals are discovering federal rebate checks have not yet arrived. What’s the matter, dealers — didn’t you read the fine print? Perhaps auto dealers have fallen for a bait-and-switch! Here, a dealer negotiates with Barack Obama:

AUTO DEALER: Where’s my check for $4,500? You said it was in the mail.
OBAMA: [Waves thick contract] Look right here, subparagraph 14d. It clearly states the money will be paid on the third Tuesday of a month that begins with a waning gibbous moon. You read subparagraph 14d, didn’t you?
DEALER: No — I was tired — you assured me it was just paperwork.
OBAMA: Well! Maybe I can still get you the discount, if you buy rustproofing and splashguards.
DEALER: Your ads didn’t say anything about rustproofing.
OBAMA: [Waves printout] Look, I am giving you everything below my cost. See, here’s my factory invoice. My revenue is $2.2 trillion, yet I am spending $3.9 trillion. [Note: actual federal budget figures for current fiscal year]
DEALER: Wait a minute — if you’re really selling below cost, how do you stay in business?
OBAMA: We make it up in volume.
DEALER: Just give me my $4,500!
OBAMA: OK. I have to ask my manager. [Disappears into back]
DEALER: I wonder if he’s really checking with his manager.
OBAMA: [Returns] Tell you what, you can use the $4,500 as a down payment on the $11 trillion debt your children will owe. While you’re here, would you like free health care? It’s going to cost you.

Just another reason why government shouldn’t pick the winners and losers in an economy.

Bonus: More TMQ ripping the government for the GM and Chrysler bailouts.