Reid’s GOP counterpart, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, predicted his party would not block a vote, and “the matter will be completed.”
Buyers of new cars and trucks have swamped formerly deserted auto dealers to claim their rebates — as much as $4,500 when they trade in older models that get significantly worse gas mileage. The older vehicles are then scrapped.
“We’ve noticed a definite spike in traffic and more people who are becoming interested again in the car business,” said Scott Wilson, the sales manager at Courtesy Ford Lincoln Mercury in Rome. “We’ve been trending up about 10 percent a month anyway since January, and anything that we can get to help continue sales is a good thing.”
Mike Barron, co-owner of the Heritage Auto Group dealerships, said the difficult part has been matching up consumers’ prospective trade-ins with the government mandates that are set up for the program.
“We have to send in all the documentation to show that a person has complied with all aspects of the program,” Barron said. “That’s the only frustrating thing on (the dealers’) part, the amount of paperwork involved and the time lag in getting the payment from the government.”
Barron recommended that consumers visit the official Car Allowance Rebate System web site at www.cars.gov to look at the stipulations and requirements before visiting a dealership.
“That way people can see how the program works and if their car may even qualify before they begin the buying process,” he said.
Bob Williams, owner of Bob Williams Dodge-Chrysler-Jeep, said the difficulty in dealing with the government reimbursement has led to his decision to not participate in the “cash for clunkers” program any longer.
“I’ve heard some horror stories about dealers not getting paid. I’m not really happy with the whole situation,” Williams said. “It takes a ton of hours and a ton of paperwork to get approval, and that’s just for one deal. We’re still honoring the deals that are in the works, but it hasn’t worked out very well for us so far.”
However, Williams said he thinks the program has worked in terms of stimulating the economy.
“From a personal standpoint, I think the government did more for the economy with the $1 billion than with the $900 billion that went to Wall Street,” he said. “It got money in the consumers’ hands, and it was used to stimulate sales.”
John Arrington, the sales manager at Riverside Chevrolet-Cadillac, said any program that offers incentives for car buyers helps improve traffic and sales at most dealerships.
“It’s definitely brought in a lot of business and put people in the mind frame of buying again,” he said of the “cash for clunkers” program. “We’re still a ways away from where we were with sales in the past, but any improvement is a good sign.”
Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., expressed concerns about the program.
“In June, I voted to remove the $1 billion for the ‘cash for clunkers’ program from the war supplemental spending bill,” Isakson said Tuesday. “I am skeptical about extending the program because I do not believe that Congress should continue to spend taxpayer dollars on programs that promote an artificial economic recovery.”
Rome News-Tribune Staff Writer Jeff Gable contributed to this report.