Although automakers, dealers, and politicians alike hail the "Cash for Clunkers" program as a godsend, there are plenty who oppose the legislation, not the least of which are charity organizations. Charities, concerned that cash-for-clunkers would wreak havoc on car donations, are behind the puzzlingly low 18-miles-per-gallon restriction on the program.
"Maybe new cars will get better mileage," says Roger Penn of the Car Ministry, which fixes donated cars and gives them away to those in need of mobility. "But what about the people who can't afford to buy a new car? They need transportation. And if they don't have it, they won't be able to get to work."
The government's Car Allowance Rebate System gives consumers up to $4500 to trade in fuel inefficient vehicles that achieve less than 18 miles per gallon for newer, more fuel efficient cars. Representative Betty Sutton, an Ohio Democrat, says the intent of the program was never to hurt charities.
"The act, of course, is to help consumers help our environment and stimulate auto sales at this time when they're lagging and so many families across this country depend on them for putting food on the table and keeping them employed," Sutton said. She claims the 18-mpg restriction was added because of charities' concerns.
"Actually, it [the 18 mpg stipulation] severely cut down the number of cars that might be traded in under the cash-for-clunkers program, and thereby making all of those cars available for charitable donations," she said.
The charities are still worried that the program will financially strain them because most donated cars aren't given away - they're sold. As such, the charities are lobbying against efforts to further fund and extend CARS, which is currently set to expire on November 1.