McCain Is A Clunker, Can I Trade Him In?

graphic by twolf

graphic by twolf

John Sidney McCain III, the blue blooded husband of a beer heiress, has decided he will be the Republican face of opposition to continuance of the wildly successful Cash For Clunkers program. The man who cannot remember how many houses he owns is going to kill the program helping regular people put a decent and efficient new car in front of their humble middle class homes. From FOX News:

Fox has learned that Sen. John McCain, R-AZ, will oppose any move to take up the House bill. Around here, we call that a filibuster.

McCain told Fox earlier today, "I not only wouldn’t vote for the extra two billion, I was opposed to the initial billion. "

McCain, the 2008 GOP presidential nominee who ran as a deficit hawk, said, "Within a few weeks we will see that this process was abused by speculators and people who took advantage of what is basically a huge government subsidy of corporations that they already own. "I can’t imagine that any taxpayer of America would have thought that the TARP, the financial recovery money, would be used now to subsidize the sale of automobiles in America."

This is a pile of bunk; John McCain is not a deficit hawk, he is a narcissistic publicity hawk and he hasn’t had enough lately and saw an opening. What is really rotten, however, is he is trying to take down the one program that has demonstrated immediate and tangible systemic benefits. In other words, the precise stimulus the economy is dying for.

Wildly successful is almost an understatement for the Cash For Clunkers program as Marcy indicated in this post. Quoting from the official website:

According to, 79% of clunkers being traded in so far are SUVs, trucks and vans with over 100,000 miles and most are being replaced with new passenger vehicles. The average age of a trade-in model is almost 13 years old, and the average odometer reading is approximately 138,000 miles. The most popular clunker trades are Chevrolet, Ford and Dodge and 84 percent of the new vehicles purchased are passenger cars.

This is economic stimulus at its finest. Customers are flocking to dealerships, dealerships are selling cars, service bays are active, manufacturers are moving inventory, financing shops are making loans, accessories are being sold, manufacturing suppliers are being paid and kept in business – it is one heck of an economic spur to a major sector of the economy and a fantastic lead in to the critical opening of the traditional new model year that annually starts in mid to late September.

The effect is palpable; you can see it and feel it at the local level. Drive by your local dealerships, if they are anything like here, they have sprung aback to life. Pay attention to your local advertising, both print and broadcast; if anything like here, it has sprung back to life with the wares and praises of local auto dealerships, probably the most important local advertising revenue extant. You do not have to love the car business to understand what this means to the economy.

But the stingy old narcissistic gluehorse John McCain wants none of that; he wants to kill all the economic activity I can see and feel right here in Phoenix Arizona. But, take it from a native Arizonan, that is typical John McCain, he has never cared a lick about anything but his own self aggrandizement.

It is, however, shocking in one regard; namely McCain has a history of loving sweet governmental automotive subsidy programs to the point of personally abusing them. From a post I did during the election on this exact topic, "Did John McCain Almost Bankrupt Arizona With His Electric Cars?":

Back in 2000, Arizona came within a whisker of financial collapse and bankruptcy. The cause was a corrupt state Alternative Fuels Program engineered by McCain’s best friend and political protege, Jeff Groscost, then speaker of the Arizona House of Representatives. That program turned

…what was supposed to be a modest $3 million initiative to encourage the use of alternative-fuel vehicles (AFVs) into a half-billion-dollar boondoggle that nearly bankrupted the state and earned it national belly laughs.

Not only was Groscost manager of McCain’s 2000 Arizona Presidential Campaign, the boondoggle legislation was the fruit of McCain’s 2000 Campaign:

Groscost, who has been a paid political consultant to presidential candidate Sen. John McCain, said the campaign was frustrated when it could not find an alternative-fuel vehicle.

Yesterday Newsweek reported that, along with his ten other cars, John McCain owns "three 2000 NEV Gem electric vehicles."

In Arizona, most NEV Gem electric cars are 2000 models sold under the Alternative Fuels program that nearly bankrupted the state. Curiously, John McCain owns three of them. Did he capitalize on the boondoggle his protege crafted to have the taxpayers of Arizona heavily subsidize three new cars?

The answer to the question posed by the earlier post is an unqualified yes. He soaks his own state when it is headed towards insolvency and now wants to deny one of the most vital sectors of the local economy, as in every state in the union, the greater auto business including suppliers, the meager funds necessary to make a running start to the new model year and a return to prosperity. Not to mention prevent the benefit to the ecosystem that will come from the removal of hundreds of thousands of gas guzzling pollutant emitting vehicles from the road and replacement with modern efficient machinery. It is the McCain way.

I have a better idea; let’s not just re-up funding for the existing program; as voters let us demand the existing Cash For Clunkers program be expanded to replace worn out senators!

Are you like me with my Senator John McCain? Is your Senator too old, too stupid, his ideas too worn out? Do you suffer from frequent policy breakdowns and betrayals? How much of a deficit would you accept to replace your clunker old gluehorse Senator?

That question should be being asked by millions of Americans who just learned that Republican Senators are planning to block one of the most popular economic/jobs stimulus programs Congress has enacted in the last fifty years, Cash for Clunkers. Let’s turn in all the creaky old goats and disable them. Starting with John McCain.

[h/t Scarecrow]

  1. MrWhy says:

    Another wonderful element of Cash For Clunkers is that benefits are essentially everywhere there’s a car dealership, not localized, not controlled by state governors.

  2. BoxTurtle says:

    This is what GOPers fear the most: A government program directly benefiting citizens that actually works. Their entire political creed is based on the assumption that no such thing can exist.

    As for clunking McCain, why bother? He’s in the minority in the senate and even his own party doesn’t like him much. And he gives you something to blog about!

    Boxturtle (The Blue Dogs are more dangerous. Let’s establish a BlueDog Pound)

    • Waccamaw says:

      Let’s establish a BlueDog Pound.

      Only if it is *not* a no-kill shelter.

      Apologies for that piece of mean nasty but I’m getting way past pissed at the things with a (D) after their names that are as worthless as the elected (R’s).

  3. JohnnyTable70 says:

    I can’t keep track of the latest Republican whine. Aren’t they still arguing that the Democrats are closing Republican dealerships? Unlike say, Iraq, by all metrics, this program seems to be successful. Older cars are taken off the road and replaced with more efficient models and the dealerships that were hearing the sound of crickets are now getting used to the cha-ching of the cash register. I have heard of dealers selling 80-100 cars already in this program and now the GOP wants to shut it down. Stupid is as the GOP does.

  4. JohnnyTable70 says:

    McCain has how many cars himself. I’m sure his vintage Willys Jeep qualifies for the program.

  5. fatster says:

    For the car people,

    Breaking: Nissan Launches ‘LEAF’ Electric Car
    Zero emissions vehicle to go on sale in U.S., Japan and Europe next year.


  6. dickdata says:

    When the Republicans accused the Democrats of having GM and Chrysler close Republican dealerships, some research showed that the vast majority of contributions from dealerships to political campaigns went to the Republicans, as you would expect. Now, not content with alienating the Hispanics, the Republicans want to alienate the owners of automobile dealerships as well? Obama already got most of the Wall Street money (good investment – they gave a hundred million and got trillions), so all the Republicans have left to complete the trifecta is to vote against oil and gas subsidies (surely THAT will never happen).

  7. snaglepuss says:

    McLame seems like he’s ideally suited for the clunkers program. He has more miles on him than anyone can count, he’s been using oil (or at least used by oil) for a long time and he’s been blowing smoke and generally polluting the landscape seemingly forever. Yeah perfect candidate.

  8. klynn says:

    My goodness. When will the Goopers stop acting like spoiled children frustrated that they are not the center of attention or that someone came up with a better idea than they did or could?

    He’s too old to act this undignified, selfish and lacking in sound reasoning.

    These antics are quite worn and a poor stewardship of citizens’ time and tax dollars.

    Know a good program McCain. Stop the immature “sour grapes.”

  9. Rayne says:

    The “cash for clunkers” program should have been instituted about 6-8 years ago, based on a nonprofit consortium funded by the auto industry in concert with unions and environmental group. It could have kept demand up, could have removed many more old vehicles which have worse emissions and are more likely to leak oil, and it might eventually have paid for itself through cost reductions by way of recycled materials like steel. (If memory serves, steel prices nearly doubled in 2003-2004 time frame, would have made a lot of sense to recycle versus buy new.)

    But unfortunately, in the absence of foresight, the government has to do some of this in hindsight. It would be nice if our government were to work on developing an NGO to take over this program so that it continues to drive efficiency while helping boost demand.

    Don’t take that as agreement with McCain, though. The man can’t find his way out of a wet paper bag, hasn’t an original thought in his head and is merely in coast mode. If he were a real leader, he’d see the merits of the program and try to take that next step towards establishing an NGO to continue the work. Hell, if he were really smart, he’d figure out a for-profit business model around it.

    What I’d like to know: is there any chance at all that AZ has a moderate Repub with a few more watts upstairs than old geezer McCain, one who might caucus with Dems from time to time, who might be a good primary candidate to field against McCain?

    And is it because there are comparatively fewer lawns in AZ that the folks there tolerate the old dude yelling at people to stay off his lawn?

    • cbl2 says:

      What I’d like to know: is there any chance at all that AZ has a moderate Repub with a few more watts upstairs than old geezer McCain, one who might caucus with Dems from time to time, who might be a good primary candidate to field against McCain?

      Ariz firedogs know best, but I do recall a fella running last year who was publicly funded through Arizona’s Clean Election Act – think he may have been one of the original initiators of the Act as well – that would be a great place to start

  10. klynn says:

    I now have a picture in my mind of a bunch of sour grapes with all the whining GOP faces on individual grapes.

    Caption below the bunch of grapes:

    Sour grapes? Make whine.


    Sour Grapes Are Best Dried

  11. oldtree says:

    It’s a bailout for people that are rich enough to get a loan from the bank. There are millions of Americans that don’t qualify for this debacle and have cars that they need to get them to work and back. Why are they not being helped? Are they going to get the clunker that was traded in?
    SUV’s and big vehicles. Great, let’s get a few off the road and make a .001% dent in the soot outlay. They would have gone off the road anyway if gas prices were realistic.
    This is a weird thing to see my progressive friends go gaga for something that helps only the auto dealer. The idiot boy’s club that bough too many cars when the nation was in depression. This is over a year that they knew their crap wouldn’t sell. So we bail out 100,000 people. We could have spent that money to fix economical cars for people that only have one, or have none, and need a job and a way to get there.
    Where is the logic for this flawed program? The service bays? Yes, the only people at an auto dealership that don’t make their money via theft. But please, look, at how few this program has helped compared to what the money could have done for so many more people.
    I am seriously ashamed that anyone in their right mind thinks this is a good thing and has some value to people that need it. If you can trade in a clunker, you have money to buy one. Screw anyone that doesn’t already have money, is that it?

    • klynn says:

      Actually, I think the program should be expanded. The funding of the car payments could be done almost like an EEM’s (Energy Efficient Mortgage) with the exception of writing the loan, not with the higher amount calculated through energy savings, as an EEM’s does, but make the monthly payment on the car the total annual milage savings divided by twelve.

      The other day many of us wrote about the import of expanding such a program. Many ideas were posted. Thus, more posters here probably agree with your concerns. I just will not criticize a program that also gets old trucks, hugh gas guzzlers and SUV gas hogs off the road and replace them with small energy efficient passengers cars priced in the lower, affordable range.

      Similarly, the energy rebates have limitations by setting the rebate limit over two years at $1500 total. As risk neighborhoods qualify for many other programs and $$ but for my situation, the $1500 savings would not make a dent in our home needs which require more energy efficiency improvements. New siding, windows, doors, heating unit are all on our list for tightening our house. $1500 would not even cover the taxes we would end up paying on all of those energy efficiency improvements.

    • bmaz says:

      That is an awfully cynical and shortsided view. This helps all parts of a huge segment of society. It helps the manufacturers, dealers, suppliers, ad companies and local newspapers and tv stations and about a thousand other factors. It saves and creates jobs all up and down that line. Oh, and by the way, it puts much needed new vehicle license and registration fees into desperate state coffers. Your claim that it is a bailout for rich people is bogus. With the allowances, many people can now get a car for $10,000 or less and the initial figures show that most of the new cars sold under the program are small passenger cars. You could not be more wrong.

      • oldtree says:

        I disagree or I would not have written it. Your premise is that the “Auto Dealerships” are shining and rosy right now, and that we have made a difference. I do not disagree. However, the problem is that it is helping only those that can afford it. People with more than they need to get to work now, people with jobs. I have a friend that loaned a very old family friend enough to buy an economic clunker so she could take a job 40 miles from home. This person had nothing without the help of someone. She would have had no job, and no prospects for getting one. She had no car.
        If this money had been spent to fix used cars, we see a huge reduction in the manufacturing process that wastes energy, and puts profits in the hands of very, very few people. But no. It was given to those that have more than they need. If this makes sense on either a fiscal or humanitarian sense, please convince me.
        Auto dealers knew in 2008 that their industry was toast. They made crappy cars that eat fuel like it would always be free. In our town, and it is a small one, there are 3 major dealers. Each has been sitting with hundreds of new and used cars sitting on their lots. The 50 people that work at each location benefit by the bailout. The people that can get a loan also benefit by suddenly being subsidized by the government. There are 5000 people here that might be able to get a job if they could travel 40 miles to a larger city. There is no rail, bus or other service to get them there in a timely manner. We have 5000 people that have just been abandoned to favor the thieves that run an industry that has both benefitted and caused one of the major environmental disasters facing our planet. I know you dig the car Bmaz, your stories are legend. I too have a soft spot for those old gas guzzlers. I prefer seeing them in a museum, considering.
        The rich auto dealer, the rich consumer. They benefit. The rest of us lose big time. They argue about funding rail projects, and argue until the proposal has been weakened to the point of it being a rail line to nowhere. No funding for community transportation. Only cars. We have bills pending to help all the old roads out, so cars can travel endlessly on. The “Independent” ran a story today about the nature of peak oil and the reserves likely remaining to us. If anyone disagrees, let’s see the proof. 10 years perhaps.
        Imagine, billions to trade in older cars to be replaced with newer cars, as the oil runs out. And this makes sense? Is it somehow politically abhorrent to help the people on the lower end of the ladder? Nothing, and I repeat, NOTHING, has yet been proposed for those losing their cars, their homes, their jobs, their lives to the new depression. But the rich have nothing to worry about. Their government is giving them a fat subsidy that could have gone 10,000 times farther toward helping both clean the planet, and put people that truly needed the money, the car, or the job, to work.
        An auto dealer. The place where the next two salesmen have a fist fight to determine which gets the next client coming on the lot. (as you should know, this is commonplace) The place where the facts should have been provided to the consumer coming in for cash for clunkers. But, instead, where most people are reporting that 3 of 5 of these dealers are using tactics designed to cheat them on the purchase.
        Perhaps I am the wrong sort of progressive thinker. This could have been great seed money for helping hundreds of thousands of people. Instead, it benefitted a few thousand. That is not the mark of success in today’s climate. It helped no one that truly needed it, except for people that sell cars. This, does not make sense to me. It may not be as bad as the bailout to the banks, or the military, or the foreign countries, or the insurance companies, but it is the same kind of reward for poor behavior.

        • bmaz says:

          Actually, it has benefitted approximately 250,000 buyers so far, with an eye to getting the figure up to one million. It is not just a few thousand.

          For what it is worth, I agree a more sustainable alternative to oil needs to be implemented; but we are simply not there yet. And there is a real need for hard stimulus in the economy. No, the CARS program will not benefit everybody, but it is probably the fastest and best stimulus bang for the buck the government has done to date. That counts for a lot right now. No one program will benefit everybody in society equally; there needs to be a lot of different modalities; but the CARS has been remarkably successful at a critical time.

          • oldtree says:

            Then let’s look at how many millions it could have helped with the smaller, less expensive costs involved in fixing otherwise efficient cars? The auto parts shops, the tires, the repair people, the states, the millions of people now able to provide for their families in times of unbelievable hardship. The money is going only to those that need it the least. If that is America, what are we really?
            And I have to agree, it is the best stimulus that has been done to date. That is why it is so sad. We have no reforms meant to help anyone small enough to need them.

        • Rayne says:

          Look, people who couldn’t afford to buy a car before July 2008 still can’t buy a car now. There’s little which can chance this dynamic save for an improved economy.

          Perhaps part of the problem for people who haven’t been able to afford a car is that public transportation hasn’t been as effective and widespread as it should have been. We’re spending HUGE amounts of money on light rail and high speed rail and urban transit improvements right now, far more than the amount we’re spending on Cash for Clunkers.

          And we’re spending the money on Cash for Clunkers and on mass transit as an economic stimulus, not just to spread new cars around; if we can keep more people employed, we can eventually increase aggregate demand enough to improve the lot of people at the lowest part of the economic spectrum.

          And no, not every single rich dealership is going to come out on top with this Cash for Clunkers program. I know a dealer who is now out of business — one of the biggest in the county — who has already laid off his people, who has also started paring back other spending on services which many people in the community relied on. The guy may be a Repub with money, but his business supported roughly 300 employees and immediate service providers.

          Here’s an example of the ripple effect: A close friend who babysits his grandkids now has to find a way to replace 30% of her income as their mother had worked in the dealership and now has no prospects for work in the area. How many other service providers will be similarly impacted?

          And this babysitter is driving a 6-year-old van; there’s no new car in the offing to replace her clunker now that she’s had a 30% loss of income.

          It goes all the way around the foodchain, oldtree. It’s not quite as simple as it looks on the surface.

          • Petrocelli says:

            To add to all your excellent points, the threshold for trading in Pickups is the most telling sign of this stimulus’ intent.

            Who buys Pickups ? Not Wall Street or Beverly Hills types but mainly Tradespeople & Farmers. I’m sure they can see the benefit of a $4500 tax free rebate.

  12. Loo Hoo. says:

    Love the graphic! That exactly how McCain comes off whenever he’s talking. He works so hard to control his voice and what comes out of his mouth, when in reality he just wants to scream, “Pay attention to ME!”

  13. 1970cs says:

    McPalin doesn’t get that this program is outside the beltway bubble and the average person understands what it’s all about. He will get his ass handed to him, again.

    • TomWells says:

      Exactly right. These Rs are blinded by ideology. Hand them a shovel so they can dig a deeper hole for themselves.

      • Twain says:

        They are giving us great stuff for ads in the 2010 election. They think they are just doing sound bites and making the 6pm news. Dumb.

  14. Crosstimbers says:

    The only thing I ask is that local car dealers not be allowed to make their own advertisements supporting the program. On the other hand, guys wearing clown suits or cowboy outfits and girls from Hooters kicking lifesize pasteboard figures of McCain, et. al. might be okay.

  15. hackworth1 says:

    A Hyundai dealer employee said that the trade in vehicles (clunkers) are supposed to be made non-functioning (for scrap) at the dealer. The engine oil is to be drained and a chemical is added. The engine is to be run with the chemical which seizes the engine.

    The employee said that the dealer he works for does not have the chemical.

    • Crosstimbers says:

      Where there’s a will, there’s a way. Maybe they could hire some unemployed teenagers to put sugar in the gas tanks.

    • ferrarimanf355 says:

      That wasn’t the point. My point was that a perfectly good Volvo was being destroyed for teh environment.

  16. puravida says:

    Geez, if McCain goes through with this, perhaps distributing those shots of him sitting mute and helpless with Bush when he suspended his campaign to solve the economic crisis might convince him to shut the fuck up.

    • Twain says:

      McCain will never shut up. He will still be talking when they put him in the ground. Mean spirited old man way past his sell-by date.

  17. TomWells says:

    We need ads of McCain and DeMint saying helping the American people is bad policy. People want this bill. I hope the Rs filibuster. It exposes them even more for what they are.

  18. cbl2 says:

    fabulous post bmaz! forgot all about the Alternative Fuel Vehicle flim-flammery.
    wasn’t Jeff Groscost caught in some hanky panky at an AZ Obama 08 office as well ??

  19. klynn says:

    Honestly, this McC hot air opposition reads like a Monday morning strategy session outcome. GOP added up the positive media postings about Obama or any Dems from the weekend and decided, “Go after this item on Monday to negate Obama.”

    Sounds like McCain is part of the Waterloo strategy which forgets about citizens with real concerns.

  20. katymine says:

    this man, this senator….. my senator….. has had government sponsored health care for all 80 years of his life……. navy as dependent child, naval officer, military medicine, VA, congressional and then senate health care…… He help raid our state treasury, that alt fuel boondoggle nearly took down another AZ Governor

  21. LKN2 says:

    I could support this program if it was limited to the purchase of vehicles getting 30 plus mpg, but pickup trucks getting just over 18 mpg qualify! Certainly the government could find a better use for these billions!

  22. jaango says:

    As a Chicano from Arizona, perhaps, I am going off on a tangent here? But if so, I will let you decide.

    Both McCain and Kyl of Arizona are busy ‘channeling’ the late Barry Goldwater’s penchant for the usual John Bircherisms. And more on point, his opposition to ‘clunkers’ should be viewed from the standpoint of the Chicano. To wit, here in Western Maricopa County, Chicanos voted upwards of 85% for President Obama. So, where does McCain manufacture his Latino support of 31% support? From the same place he manufactures the notional that Chicanos don’t support in his higher numbers because, we’re too stupid to appreciate his white man’s burden. Thus, McCain offers ‘nothing’ and expects us to genuflect at the altar of his $400.00 suppositories.

    So, when McCain jumps up on his soap box to espouse his credibility and certitude, he has no willing audience, other than among the intellectually lazy that personifies and perpetuates the Right.

    So, if you take a gander at any public opinion poll that originates in Arizona relative to McCain, you also won’t find a public opinion poll that focuses exclusively on Chicanos. To do so, turns the fictionalized McCain into an Ugly Reality that he inhabits and is the predicate for. Thus, McCain loves his ‘theatrics’ above ‘being correct’.


  23. Badwater says:

    Republics have shown that they are only deficit hawks when they are out of power. It’s a talking point when they have no power. It’s not an action item when they have power.

    • bmaz says:

      That is what I have heard too. Also Priuses are selling well under the program I hear. But mostly small, cheap and efficient cars just like was hoped for.

  24. Jkat says:

    re: that car dealer who “doesn’t have the chemical”

    sodium silicate.. aka “water glass” is available at any pharmacy four about a buck a quart … in the old days people used it to seal cracked blocks ..or temporary fixes on leaking radiators .. it mixes with water readily and solidifies on contact with the air …

  25. Synoia says:

    McCain, the 2008 GOP presidential nominee who ran as a deficit hawk.

    Never saw a defense appropriation he didn’t like.

  26. fatster says:

    bmaz, I’d greatly appreciate it if you’d look at what I posted over on Gold Bars @ 17. Why are they doing this now?