Cash for Clunkers is wildly successful, I've been told. Bull.
If the various commenters on the Obama Pep Squad were saying "wildly popular," that would be right. Any program that gives out free money is going to be wildly popular. But let's think about what this program really does.
Say you're a fairly typical Minnesotan -- you and your spouse earn around $60K a year. After the various deductions you are allowed to take, your taxable income works out to around $35,350. The federal tax bite you are looking at is $4,504.
Your neighbor, who makes about the same money you do, maybe a little more, is tired of driving his old yet serviceable second car (a 1997 Chevy Monte Carlo, like the one pictured with this post*) and goes in for Cash for Clunkers and gets a new Toyota Corolla. He gets a $4,500 credit to buy it. Guess what -- all the taxes you paid for the year are devoted to financing his new car! And if you're lucky, your neighbor might even let you drive it around the block or something!
If we really want to do that sort of thing, I suppose we can. But why not just cut out the middle man and write your neighbor a check directly? Maybe that's why the government needs the $4 that would have been left over from what you paid in taxes for last year. Shipping and handling charges, I believe.
Thought that your taxes were going to pay for national defense, or roads and bridges, or something else? Naah, why would the government do that when they can dispense favors instead? Guess all the infrastructure projects that we've heard about are all under control now.
* I would also note that the picture of this Monte Carlo comes from a car dealership website. The dealer thinks this car has value. If your neighbor turns in his Monte Carlo for Cash for Clunkers, it gets destroyed.