Daily Video

August 7, 2009

Congress Extends Popular Car Rebate Program

The U.S. Senate voted Thursday to give $2 billion more to the government’s popular “cash for clunkers” program, which offers car owners cash back for trading in their gas guzzlers with more fuel-efficient vehicles.

The $1 billion in funds set aside for the program was exhausted within weeks and according to the Department of Transportation, it has taken 157,000 cars of the nation’s roads.

America’s struggling auto companies have benefited from the program as 45 percent of the new cars purchased are made in the U.S.

NewsHour correspondent Judy Woodruff talks to Ed Tonkin, vice chairman of the National Automobile Dealers Association, and Bruce Belzowski of the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute.


“I think [the Clunkers program] been terrific, even better than anyone expected. It’s interesting because, as you see in the media, in some of the publications, people are wondering, is the stimulus program working, the government stimulus program? Here you have probably the most successful. You have action and then reaction.” – Ed Tonkin, National Automobile Dealers Association

“We’re trying to wean the U.S. off of fossil fuels and get better emissions from our vehicles, and this is a kind of a step in that direction. One could even look at this as a first step by the administration to put their toe in the water to see how this is going to — how the people are going to react, how is it going to work in the marketplace.” – Bruce Belzowski, University of Michigan, Transportation Research Institute

“I want to also agree with the gentleman who’s on with me today about the psychological effect. I think it’s terrific. I think this acts as a catalyst. It’s good news. It’s positive. It gets people thinking about buying again. We’re seeing successes with it. It’s going to preserve and create jobs. And I think good news is what we need. People’s perception becomes their reality, and this is something that’s working, and the government could feel very good about this.” – Ed Tonkin, National Automobile Dealers Association

Warm Up Questions

1. What kind of car does your family drive? What kind of gas mileage does it get?

2. What are the “Big Three” car companies?

Discussion Questions

1. Why is it important to promote cars that get good gas mileage? How does it affect the nation’s economy?

2. What does the term “Buy American” mean? How can it impact the nation’s economy?

3. The nation’s biggest auto companies are struggling. Have you seen the impact of this in your community?

Additional Resources

Read the transcript

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