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Did 'Cash for Clunkers' just put Obamacare on the junk heap? Update: House adds $2 billion more to re-start the program; Schumer seeks $4 billion

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By Doug Powers  •  July 31, 2009 01:10 PM

“Cash for Clunkers” — a program that our genius financial managers in Washington had skillfully budgeted to run, appropriately enough, until around Halloween — has been suspended after just a few days. There were many “unforeseen” problems, meaning that nobody who created the program knew anything about what they were doing or the possible pitfalls. The architects of Cash for Clunkers couldn’t organize a two hybrid car funeral.

The Obama administration is attempting to use the fact that the program was popular with consumers as evidence that it was a “success,” but that only serves as evidence of government incompetence. Unfortunately for Obama & Company, many people are aware that sometimes “too successful” is far more expensive than “didn’t work at all.” If Apollo 11 had been “too successful” by the Obama administration’s definition, the crew would have overshot the moon, and they’d be dead and halfway to Alpha Centauri by now. “That’s one small loss of men, one giant leap for bureaucracy.”

The fact is that Cash for Clunkers could not have lasted for very long in its present form even if the government didn’t run out of budgeted taxpayer money, for reasons I outlined in part here.

In the private sector — which the government hopes to compete with using money confiscated from the private sector (some “competition”) — when you create a sale or promotion of some sort, you must make sure you’re covered in case it is very successful. Poor planning leads to unhappy customers, which equals going out of business. Fortunately for the government, they have no such consequence as “going out of business.” In government, incompetence is rewarded.

In private sector business, there are just as many execs who have been fired because they didn’t plan for what to do if a sale went “too well” as there are who created sales programs that didn’t work at all.

But people are catching on, and you’re seeing that reflected in the poll numbers for government-run health care and even in Obama’s plummeting approval ratings.

This sums up the concern of any American with an I.Q. above Tim Geithner’s shoe size:

“If they can’t administer a program like this, I’d be a little concerned about my health insurance,” car salesman Rob Bojaryn said.

Unfortunately for Obama, Pelosi, Frank, et al, this is going to be an oft-repeated observation. We may be intimidated by the size and scope of health care and think that somebody else may know better than we do, but when we see those same people screw up a freakin’ car sale, the mask comes off and we don’t want them messing with our health too.

We don’t need to go back far in time to find a similar government screw-up. Remember the well thought out “converter box” coupon program? The one that quickly exceeded the $1.34 billion funding limit set by Congress, causing a delay in the transition and costing an additional few billion dollars to taxpayers and private industry? “Cash for Clunkers” is brought to us by most of the same people — the same ones who will bring us our “free” health care.

The White House and Congress are going to go all out to resuscitate Cash for Clunkers. They have to — because the total failure of this “wild success” may well kill their dreams of National Health Care, and they know it.

In Cash for Clunkers, old cars are turned in and put in a junk heap — even if the cars still run and could be of use to somebody else. Americans in their twilight years should most certainly be wary of the architects of Cash for Clunkers being in control of their health care.

But hey, if this billion-dollar hunk of mis-management knocks Obamacare in the dirt, then it’s money well-spent. Who says Obama and Congress can’t spend wisely once in a while?

Update: The fate of Cash for Clunkers should have been apparent back when the federal computer system supporting the program’s website crashed 15 minutes after the program launched.

Update II: In an “emergency measure,” the House has just added $2 billion more to Cash for Clunkers to re-start the program.

Update III: Super-weasel Chuck Schumer is seeking $4 billion more! Do I hear 10!?

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