Mr. McCAIN. Mr. President, I wanted to go into a bit more detail about the cash for clunkers provision the Senate passed yesterday as part of the $105 billion war supplemental. I continue to believe that the American people would be appalled to learn the specifics of this lemon legislation. Here is a quick summary:
Any person who trades in a car he or she has owned and insured for at least 1 year that has a combined fuel economy value of 18 miles or less per gallon is eligible for: $3,500 toward the purchase of a new car if it has a fuel economy value at least 4 miles per gallon higher than the trade-in, or a new truck if it has a fuel economy value at least 2 miles per gallon higher than the trade-in; or $4,500 toward the purchase of a new car if it has a fuel economy value at least 10 miles per gallon higher than the trade-in, or a new truck if it has a fuel economy value at least 5 miles per gallon higher than the trade-in.
The auto dealer that sells the new car, must accept the trade-in and crush it, then submit paperwork to the Department of Transportation, DOT, and the money is directly wired to the auto dealer. This is ripe for fraud and abuse and the bill provides a penalty of a mere $15,000 fine for each abuse.
Only cars costing less than $45,000 and purchased between July 1, 2009, and November 1, 2009, are eligible.
Lastly, I want to talk about how this clunker was salvaged by the Democrats placing it in a war supplemental bill. On January 14, 2009, several Senators introduced a cash for clunkers bill that would provide between $2,500 and $4,500 toward the purchase of a new or used car as long as the trade-in had a fuel economy rating of less than 18 miles a gallon and the new or used car had a fuel economy rating exceeding target for that class of vehicles by at least 25 percent, as determined by DOT.
Then on May 21, 2009, a new cash for clunkers bill was introduced by a different group of Senators who limited the benefit to only the purchase of a new car, and removed the requirement that the new car must have a fuel economy rating exceeding the target by at least 25 percent and replaced it with a more lax requirement that a new car merely had to be 2 miles per gallon more fuel efficient.
Senators COLLINS and FEINSTEIN wrote an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal on June 11, 2009, stating:
It's amazing how quickly a good idea can go bad in Washington ..... Our ``Cash for Clunkers'' proposal was a win-win for the environment and the economy. Then Detroit auto industry lobbyists got involved. Soon a rival bill emerged ..... tailored perfectly to the auto industry's specifications. They claim their bill would have resulted in 32 percent more oil savings and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. And then Detroit's bill was placed into the war supplemental and will likely be signed into law without ever having been reviewed by the committee that has jurisdiction over such legislation or being available for amendment by the full Senate.