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Cash for Clunkers

AP: Obama Administration Won’t Release Full Data on ‘Cash for Clunkers’

5:22 PM PDT on August 4, 2009

A $2 billion renewal of "cash for clunkers" is now almost assured, with GOP senators easing up on their threat of a filibuster and one key Democrat remarking that "the statistics [for the program] are much better than everyone thought."

But if the "clunkers" data is so successful, why won't the U.S. DOT release it in full? From the AP:

The Obama administration is refusing to release government recordson its "cash-for-clunkers" rebate program that would substantiate — orundercut — White House claims of the program's success, even as thepresident presses the Senate for a quick vote for $2 billion to boostcar sales.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said Sunday thegovernment would release electronic records about the program, andPresident Barack Obama has pledged greater transparency for hisadministration. But the Transportation Department, which has collecteddetails about 157,000 rebate requests, won't release sales data thatdealers provided showing how much U.S. car manufacturers are benefitingfrom the $1 billion initially pumped into the program.

Some initial numbers
on "cash for clunkers" have been circulating widely in Washington as
the White House prods senators to approve the $2 billion infusion
before leaving town this weekend for a month-long recess.

Yet only about half
of the 250,000 auto sales attributed to the program have been processed
so far, according to lawmakers, casting doubt on the definitiveness of
the data.

The non-profit watchdog group Public Citizen filed a
Freedom of Information Act request today seeking more detailed numbers
on "clunkers" sales. As Streetsblog Capitol Hill reported yesterday,
the DOT is also declining to release details on the deal it signed with Citigroup, beneficiary of a $45 billion government bailout, to help process "clunker" deals.

What's no secret, however, is LaHood's ideal choice of a new car. "I have my eye on an Explorer, four-wheel drive," he told MSNBC yesterday. The 2010 Explorer 4WD gets a combined 16 miles per gallon -- barely qualifying it for the "clunkers" program.

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