Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Conservatives and the Deficit

Apparently Matthew Yglesias has uniformly decided for all of us that conservatives do not care about the deficit. Nope. Not one iota. Not one bit. His supporting arguments are a schmorgasborg of straw men, circular reasoning, false dilemmas, and clairvoyance. While I believe his career in mind-reading may be in jeopardy, I will not say that his point is wholly without merit.

The straw man
Yglesias definitively states:
There have been two presidents who were part of the modern conservative
movement, Ronald Reagan and George W Bush, and they both presided over massive
increases in both present and projected deficits.

While I was just learning how to read when Ronald Reagan made his exit from the White House, I can tell you that George W Bush, while a self-proclaimed conservative, was rarely, if ever, claimed by fiscal conservatives as one of their own. Many, if not all of his non-military spending programs were roundly opposed by conservatives in Congress and academia. In fact, many fiscally responsible measures proposed by conservative members of Congress were dead on arrival at the Bush White House. To list him as representative of the "conservative movement" would not be very accurate and serves only to make Yglesias argument more convincing with little attention to facts. In truth, what Yglesias and any other intelligent person should glean from the Bush presidency is that conservatives oppose fiscal irresponsibility from either party, not just their opponents.

False Dilemma
Yglesias states:
The major deficit reduction packages of the modern era, in 1990 and 1993, were
both uniformly opposed by the conservative movement.

While Yglesias provides zero support or clarification of this statement, I am assuming by "conservative movement" he is referring to Republicans in Congress only. I don't think its any stretch to say that "conservatives" and "Republicans" often disagree on matters of policy. One need only visit or listen to Erick Erickson to know that. But more importantly, Yglesias seems to be saying that if you opposed these two deficit reduction packages you must be opposed to deficit reduction in any way. This is not the only reasonable alternative. No person will support something at any costs - what is in the package matters. For instance, no deficit hawk proposes the dismantling of the military to bring spending under control, just as liberals would oppose raising tax rates to 100% of income, even though it would help to fund their expansive government programs. There are breaking points and context matters. Yglesias does not acknowledge this.

Circular Reasoning
Yglesias' third and fourth points are in regard to taxes. Yglesias says:
When the deficit was temporarily eliminated in the late-1990's, the mainstream
conservative view was that this showed that the deficit was too low and needed
to be increased via large tax cuts.

Here, his conclusion has become his premise. Since conservatives don't care about the deficit, their motive in supporting tax cuts must have been that the deficit was too low and needed to be increased. Clearly, mine is not a thorougly researched blog post, but unless he has supporting quotes or articles with conservatives making statements to that effect, I cannot concede this point. When the government budget forecast a SURPLUS, conservatives thoughtfully believed that, if the government has extra money laying around, perhaps it is best to return it to the people. Incidentally, it is a well established economic fact that reductions in tax rates do not automatically equal reductions in government revenues, and Yglesias knows that. Once again, he presents only the portion of the facts that make his conclusion seem obvious. The fact is, his conclusion is far from obvious and things are rarely as simple as he presents them.

Yglesias uses Republican presidents when it suits him, then Republican members of Congress when more convenient. Who is it that controls government spending? He ignores the fact that it was a Republican Congress that balanced the budget in the mid-1990's, alongside a Democratic president. I'll have to check my copy of the Constitution but I believe Article I gives Congress the power of the purse.

All of this being said, I do agree that Republicans have done a poor job of supporting deficit reduction and fiscal responsibility over the past decade. I am queasy over neo-conservative support of expansive military operations without fiscal restraint. If he wants to focus his ire on Republicans, I believe that would be responsible and better supported by fact. When it comes to conservatives, it would be more accurate to say that conservatives are most concerned with responsible government spending and keeping taxes as low as possible. It is difficult to argue that a group who cares about revenues and expenses does not care about the bottom line. Such measures are directly correlated. To claim that conservatives uniformly "do not care about the deficit" is like saying a business owner that cares about his prices and watches his expenses does not care about his profits or losses. I think that is a hard case to make and diminishes what I think is an important and valuable discussion.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Why I Can't Support Arizona's Immigration Bill

I came to this debate with an open mind as many individuals with whom I share principles and values support Arizona's immigration bill that was signed into law by Governor Jan Brewer last Friday. After having heard their arguments however I cannot help but detect intellectual inconsistency at best and intellectual dishonesty at worst.

Here are the basic controversial tenets of the bill:
  • Would require police to attempt to determine the immigration status of any person they encounter as a part of a "lawful contact"
  • Allows police to arrest undocumented immigrants and charge them with trespass
  • Outlaws the hiring of day laborers
  • Prohibits anyone from transporting undocumented immigrants for any purpose
  • Allows police officers to conduct warrantless arrests (and searches) of anyone who immediately cannot produce documents proving their legal status
  • Provides a private right of action for citizens of Arizona to sue law enforcement officers if the resident believes the officer is not enforcing immigration laws (frivolous lawsuit alert)
Proponents begin by arguing that border violence has gotten so out of control that it presents a clear and present danger requiring immediate action by the State to fill the void left by the federal government's malpractice. To give this defense a face, you will hear about the tragic murder of a rancher by the name of Robert Krenz, killed at the hands of illegal immigrants involved in drug cartels. While this is angering, frustrating, and senseless, the facts on border violence are not as stark. The Cato Institute reported yesterday that violent crime in Arizona is actually at its lowest level in 40 years:
The Crime rate in Arizona in 2008 was the lowest it has been in four decades. In the past decade, as the number of illegal immigrants in the state grew rapidly, the violent crime rate dropped by 23%, the property crime rate by 28%.

If that is true, what is the rush to enact such draconian measures through state law? During the Obamacare debate, conservatives were frustrated by President Obama's constant invocation of "personal stories" to sell his legislation. While sad, conservatives would say, these stories are not necessarily representative of the group as a whole and do not, alone, constitute a defense of the policies. Seems like conservative supporters of Arizona's legislation have that same problem here too.

Other arguments include the proposition that we must do something and opponents of the law just want to stand by and watch as violence engulfs our border states. Well this "something is better than nothing" argument may sound familiar. This is because it is the same argument that Democrats and liberals used against opponents of healthcare reform. Ironically, the argument that was made by opponents of Obamacare (many of which are now in favor of the Arizona law) was that this was a flawed type of logic known as "false dilemma": being against Obamacare did not equal being against health care reform; you must allow for the option of being in favor of different reforms. How can they now use the same argument they fought against during the health care debate as support for this legislation?

A wholly insufficient analogy has been offered, perhaps in jest, by Jim Geraghty of National Review via his Twitter page:
I can't believe that under Arizona's new law, any bartender can ask you for your ID before he serves you alcoholic beverages.

Jim seems to be arguing that American's believe that it is acceptable to require ID in certain other situations, and that the Arizona law is no different. The major distinction however is that you can decide not to drink, but Arizona's law requires you to provide ID just for being alive and in their state. Sound familiar? Perhaps you remember liberals during the healthcare debate arguing that a health insurance mandate was okay because people are required by law to carry automobile insurance. The conservative retort? Well, here's Geraghty again on that issue:

That argument doesn't hold water. As they constantly told us in
drivers' ed class, driving is a privilege not a right. If you don't want
to pay for car insurance, you can take a taxi, public transportation, walk,
etc. You only need an insurance policy to legally drive a vehicle.
You can "opt out" by choosing not to exercise that privilege.

But in...any national individual mandate plan there is no "opt
out.".....basically you need to have health insurance to ensure your right to

Once again, the same formal logic, tranferred from one issue to the other. I agree with Geraghty on the insurance mandate reasoning and I agree with the same line of reasoning against this Arizona immigration law. Geraghty can't have it both ways.

Michelle Malkin proposes, as an alternative argument, that we take a look at Mexico's immigration laws:

The Mexican government will bar foreigners if they upset "the equilibrium of the national demographics." Hows that for racial and ethnic profiling......

...Ready to show your papers? Mexico's National Catalog of Foreigners tracks all outside tourists and foreign nationals. A National Population Registry tracks and verifies the identity of every member of the population, who must carry a citizens' identity card. Visitors that do not possess proper documents and identification are subject to arrests as illegal aliens.

Gosh, Michelle, you are right. Those laws sound pretty ugly. What is your point? She goes on:
Arizona has nothing on Mexico when it comes to cracking down on illegal aliens. While open border activists decry new enforcement measures signed into law in "Nazi-zona" last week, they remain deaf, dumb, or willfully blind to the unapologetically restictionist policies of our neighbors to the south.....

.....Mexico is doing the job Arizona is now doing -- a job the federal government has failed miserably to do: putting its people first. Here's the proper rejoinder to all the hysterical demagogues in Mexico (and their sympathizers here on American soil) now calling for boycotts and invoking Jim Crow laws, apartheid and the Holocaust because Arizona has taken its sovereignty into their own hands: Hipocritas.

So, since Arizona's laws aren't as bad as Mexico's laws, we should accept them? Not only does this not address the reasonable questions regarding the Arizona's laws conformance to the 4th amendment (and other provisions of our Constitution, that pesky Constitution again), the argument is flawed logic: Since X law isn't as bad as Y law, X law is good. Lets test it:

Obamacare isn't as severe as nationalized healthcare systems like Canada and Britain, thus Obamacare is good.

I suspect this wouldn't hold up any longer for Malkin.

Others cite the fact that discrimination based on race is strictly prohibited under the Arizona law. True, Article 8 specifically forbids it. James Joyner demonstrates the holes in this argument:
Its one thing to have reasonable suspicion that someone is, say, stealing a television and quite another to have a reasonable suspicion that a person isn't a citizen or authorized visitor. Unless one restricts it to cases where an officer has a specific tip -- all the employees of Firm X are illegals, say -- it's mighty hard to develop a suspicion that someone is here illegally without resorting to racial and linguistic profiling. And, in a state that's one third Hispanic, that's an enforcement nightmare.

Someone please tell me what "reasonable suspicion" of being illegal looks like? How would one develop reasonable suspicion? While you think about that, imagine the likely fact that not every police officer in Arizona is free from prejudice. Imagine the Mexican Americans (legal citizens)that are asked to provide proof of their legal status (forgetting for the moment that such a "guilty until proven innocent" principle is in complete contradiction to all of our values). It seems to me that one of three scenarios will occur:
  1. The citizen will provide valid ID, the officer will accept, and nothing more than a minor inconvenience will result.
  2. The citizen will provide valid ID, the officer (a) doesn't recognize the ID presented; (b)falsely believes it to be fraudulent; (c) is afraid of being wrong and being sued; (d) is a jerk who dislikes people that have dark skin -- and proceeds to arrest the citizen pending further verification.
  3. The citizen does not have valid ID on their person for whatever reason (it was left at home, the individual lost their wallet, etc) and is arrested for not being able to prove that they are here legally.

This means that there is a 2 in 3 chance that a law-abiding, taxpaying American citizen is wrongly arrested. Why would this be acceptable? Further, it forces good law enforcement officers into an uncomfortable position of guessing individual's legal status based on hardly anything besides appearance and provides bad law enforcement officers cover to discriminate and harass (if you intend to comment that I am somehow not supporting law enforcement with this proposition and it is wrong to think they would ever harass an individual please shut up and stop reading now because your bambiesque naivete makes you too ignorance to be on this blog). Even if a very small percentage fall into this last category, the rest of the good, upstanding law enforcement officers are ill equipped to enforce this law. More Joyner:

The argument isn't that police are incompetent, but that they're not equipped
to correctly guess a person's citizenship with sufficient accuracy to allow
them going around demanding to see identification. And the disparate
impact of these errors will fall on people who look and talk a certain way.
Let me dispense with the notion that I am overly sensitive to the rights of illegal aliens. Though all people are entitled to certain natural rights (in fact, I would very much like to ask Michelle Malkin if she is concerned that illegal Americans in Mexico are having their natural rights violated; I suspect she is, yet she doesn't seem to concern herself with the same rights for illegal Mexican immigrants.) That is a wholly separate discussion and this post is not concerned with the Constitutional, natural, or any other type of rights for people who are in this country illegally. If an illegal immigrant is asked for proof of legal status and, after being unable to provide it, is deported under this law I have no issue. They are not afforded with our rights under the Constitution. But illegals will not be the only ones detained by police to prove their innocence. I am concerned with the rights of hardworking Mexican Americans who will be disproportionately affected by this legislation. Can you imagine a circumstance under which a white person would be asked to prove legal status?

For a position to be valid, it must be able to be supported with valid, logical reasoning and factual evidence. If I can dispose of each of your reasons for supporting this legislation, how can I be expected to offer my support as well?

Conservatives are supposed to be suspicious of any attempts to expand the scope of government influence (which this law indisputably does). Conservatives are supposed to advocate for individual freedom; the maximization of individual freedom. I cannot see how this law conforms to those principles. I understand that illegal immigration is a serious problem that is confronting our nation. I further understand that the federal government has shirked its constitutional responsibility in a criminally negligent way. There are no circumstances dire enough however that we should allow ourselves to ignore the principles we advocate for; the values we live for. Whatever legislation we pass must not only conform to the Constitution but also the tenets of limited government and conservatism. Why should we settle for anything less?

I live in a border state and I have many Mexican-American friends as well as friends that are Mexican citizens who lawfully visit our country quite frequently. I constantly argue with them in favor of the freedoms that Americans enjoy and how our way of government is the very best way of government. It saddens me to think of these friends being forced to relegate such freedoms. Until someone can provide me with a coherent, honest, consistent explanation of why this is a good measure, I will stridently oppose this law.

I would truly love to hear your thoughts. Leave a comment below.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Republican Candidates Debate in the Texas 23rd

Tuesday night, the Young Republicans of Bexar County hosted a great debate for Republican primary run-off candidates. I live in the Texas 23rd and was eager to hear the exchange between our two candidates William Hurd and Francisco "Quico" Canseco. I did support Canseco in the primary, but came to this event with an open mind.

They begin by making opening statements. Hurd touts his 9 yrs in the CIA and willingness to serve his country. Canseco talks about his values: personal responsibility and integrity as well as his experience running a small business that he feels is badly needed in Washington.

The first questions was on Mexican drug violence spilling across the border. Canseco talks about his experience doing business in Mexico as an asset in understanding the culture and the interactions that are important in developing strategies to address such violence and drug activity. He reminds the crowd that he is from Laredo, a border town that has experienced spillover violence for years. Canseco advocates for treating cartels like insurgents. If they cross the border into our country we should pursue them into Mexico and apprehend or kill them. He says we must take a harder line with Mexico because they have far more resources at their disposal than they are currently using to curtail the violence.

Hurd agrees and echoes Canseco's insurgent sentiment. He adds that he has experience in the area, having chased Al Qaeda for a decade in Afghanistan. Hurd goes on to pledge to start border caucus in House. Curiously (and admittedly, I did not know this at the time) the House of Representatives already has a border caucus that was introduced in 2006. I don't know if he misspoke or did not know this as well.

The next question was on which piece of legislation would the candidate first introduce if elected. Canseco says first piece of legislation he'd introduce would be a repeal of the health care bill, in what I would call a pretty predictable populist statement. Next however, he says he would focus on reducing the size of government at the federal level. Finally, he would introduce legislation to make the Bush tax cuts permanent and eliminate the "death tax."

On his first piece of legislation Hurd briefly echoes the desire to repeal the health care bill, but seems to be more interested in introducing a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution, similar to the one that is law in the state of Texas. He gets a little more broad and vague in saying next that he would cut spending. He says, "you can't spend more than you make."

A great follow-up question from the moderator Chris Marrou: What spending exactly would you cut? Canseco answers that his first focus would be The Department of Education as he says in his opinion it is too intrusive and ineffective in its mandate. Next, he speaks of pork projects in the President's 2009 budget that he would strip out. Finally, in broad terms, he advocates for "trimming" the money spent by The Department of Energy. No specifics on what areas he would "trim" however.

Hurd answers this question very vaguely, perhaps betraying a lack of knowledge on the subject. In fact, he doesn't really answer the question at all. Hurd says to follow the GE model: cut 20% across the board, missing the point of the question to speak to specific cuts. I think this was an important turning point in the debate, at least for me. I supported Canseco in the primary and continue to. But I did like what I had heard from Will Hurd. But cutting spending is a popular and easy thing to say until you actually have to do it. It often involves making tough choices and always leaves some constituency unhappy. Hurd either doesn't know what he would cut or is unwilling to take a side during the election. In either case, he began losing my support at this juncture. Hurd continued by talking about his experience with cutting CIA budgets in the face of opposition from bureaucracies. He also advocates for abiding by strict debt limits which again, may betray a naivete regarding Congressional process: as the setters of the debt limits and the spenders at the same time, Congress can never be relied on the abide by debt limits. If they want to spend more, they will never hesitate to raise the debt limit to avoid paralyzing the federal government.

The next question is regarding something that has been the main topic of this primary: how important is it to be Hispanic if you want to win the Texas 23rd? Hurd says being Hispanic is not important in the 23rd. He criticizes the thought that Hispanics are homogenous and would only vote for a Hispanic. Hurd thinks likability and engagement is more important to the Hispanic community. He is mixed race for what its worth.

Canseco handles the question gracefully. He states that he has lived in south Texas his whole life. He knows and understands the "culture." He says that it is important to remember that the GOP Primary is very different from the general election. He indicates his belief that fewer Hispanics vote in the primary than in the general election. He clearly thinks his heritage will be an asset to the party. I tend to agree, as the history of the 23rd shows us. In a humorous moment, Canseco finishes his answer in Spanish, leading Hurd to respond with a soliloquy in Spanish as well, just to prove that he could speak the language as well.

Marrou comes back with an intriguing question: he asks why the GOP has any fiscal credibility after its actions during the Bush years. Canseco says to remember that the fiscal conservatism during Clinton's term began in 1996 and that the budget did get get balanced until Republicans won back the House. He goes on to talk about the benefits of a divided government, a President from one party and a Congress of another for cutting spending. Hurd clearly didn't have an answer. He simply states that Republicans must continue to fight for their principles and he is ready and willing to continue that fight.

In the final question of the debate, Marrou asks how to get our economy back on track. Hurd says the most important thing is to let people keep more of their own money to grow economy out of recession. Canseco answers that the Great Depression showed us that government spending does not work in the long run. He says government does not create jobs, small businesses create jobs. When the economy is in recession, Canseco says it is important to cut back on government programs, maintain balanced finances and cut taxes to put more money in the hands of consumers and stimulate private sector job growth.

Finally, the closing statements. Canseco begins by telling the crowd that he has lived in south Texas his whole life. He says that he has created jobs here, supported the economy, and given by by working for the community. He says his experience running a small business-balancing a budget, making payroll, and weathering an economy-is what we need in Washington. He also pledges to abide by term limitations. He said 5 years, but I am not sure if perhaps he meant 5 (2 year) terms.

Hurd is more brief. He says we need folks in Washington that can make tough decisions, not politicians. He reiterates his experience in the CIA, saying it proves that he has made tough decisions. He says after the CIA, he had many lucrative opportunities but that it was more important for him to return to Texas and continue to serve his country.

In closing, I want to say that I genuinely like Hurd. I think he is a good and eloquent man with a good future in politics. I think he might even make a good Congressman one day. I don't think that time is now, however. I wish him well, but I believe Francisco Canseco is the best choice to defeat Ciro Rodriguez in November.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Fellow Conservatives: Get in the Game on Health Care

"Republicans want you to die quickly." A stunning claim by Congressman Alan Grayson but a theme that is all too familiar: Conservatives hate Americans and don't care if half of America dies to defeat health care reform. They are mean and greedy, more concerned with lining the pockets of big insurance firms. The truth of the matter, for those interested in truth, is that conservatives care about improving access to health care while lowering costs, but oppose any larger role of the federal government in accomplishing this laudable goal. So how did this argument begin and how has it been successful? Conservatives have failed at articulating a cohesive and understandable alternative for reforming health care and thus allowed their opponents to take the offensive in framing the issue. This has the consequence of not only costing conservatives the debate on a crucial issue to all Americans, but leaving voters with a false and damaging impression of what conservative politicians stand for.

Conservatives alternatives for health care reform are numerous and promising. Bobby Jindal wrote an excellent Op-ed for the Wall Street Journal laying out his principles; The Cato Institute has a library of ideas from expanding the role of Health Savings Accounts to leveling the tax deductibility of individual health insurance plans with that of employer based health insurance plans. Many in Congress as well as conservative economists and health care experts such as Congressman Blunt, Paul Ryan from Wisconsin, former Congressman Joe Scarborough, and Larry Kudlow of CNBC have advocated for the elimination of state barriers to allow insurance companies to sell across state lines, opening up markets and increasing the risk pools. Each of these ideas have real promise and strong evidence in support of their probability of success.

Despite this, few Americans are aware of, or understand what conservative alternatives exist and how they can work together. The debate has been framed by Democrats who have told voters that if you are not for their plan, if you are against the public option, you are against health care reform and you don't care about average Americans. The truth is quite different. The choice is really about the role of government. Do you want more or less? Do you want the federal government to take a larger role or would you like to have the free market reform health care?

The term "public option" has given progressives an easily understandable and seemingly simple idea to rally support around. But the polling tells a very different story. Progressives often cite majority support of the public option as a reason why Congress should adopt this policy. True, some polls have reported support as high as 85%. When asked if they know what exactly the public option means however, the findings are startling. In a recent poll, only 37% of respondents could correctly identify a public option as "creating a government funded insurance company that competes with private insurers to offer health insurance at market rates." In a recent Washington Post/ABC News poll, 4 out of 5 surveyed think the current reforms being contemplated in Congress would reduce quality of care, increase personal health care costs, and limit choice. Why would Americans be in favor of a system that they believe will leave them worse off? Because they are in favor of reform and this is the only plan that has been articulated to them.

Conservatives are in favor of health care reform. Conservatives care about their fellow Americans. Conservatives want everyone to live a long, free, and fulfilling life. Conservatives are suspicious of an increased role of the federal government. These principles are not diametrically opposed. Conservatives (read Republicans) cannot be seen as the party of "no." They will not success and, whats more, it isn't true. It is our responsibility to see that this doesn't happen and it is time to stop blaming liberals and Democrats, stop whining, and get in the game. It is morally imperative that conservatives do a better job articulating their vision. When properly conveyed, Americans will choose us on the strength of our arguments. Americans will believe.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Texas Governor's Race Has Only One Candidate

As a Texas resident, I was looking forward to a real campaign for the Governor's office with Kay Bailey Hutchinson challenging a two-term incumbent Rick Perry in the Republican Primary. Hutchinson is a widely respected lawmaker, the senior US Senator from Texas, and looked to be a formidable opponent to Governor Perry. I can honestly say that I was undecided when I found out that Hutchinson would mount a challenge. Unfortunately, the negativity and lack of direction of Senator Hutchinson's campaign thus far has proven that she has nothing to offer Texans as our governor.

It seems clear that the Hutchinson campaign is based on one simple fact: the Senator does not like Rick Perry. Not his policies, not his administration; him. Her campaign website is filled with pettiness and petulance toward the Governor, unproductively snarking at any public statement or position in which they can paint him poorly. Where are the new ideas? Where are the policy initiatives? Where are the plans? In short, there are none. Just example after example of gossip and idle nonsense that bears very little on governance and is not helpful, constructive, or worthy of such a historic campaign.

As the challenger, it is her responsibility to show me why I should make a change; to present me with a plausible alternative. She has to make a pretty convincing case too, because it is hard to deny that the state of Texas has experienced relative prosperity during this economic recession, creating more jobs in 2008 than the other 49 states combined. Our unemployment rate is over 2 points lower than the national average. What exactly would Ms. Hutchinson change?

Does Texas have its problems? Of course it does. We have an education system that ranks in the bottom half nationally. We have too many uninsured adults as well as a heart-aching number of uninsured children; much more than the national average. This is deplorable and we must do more. Despite this however, Senator Hutchinson has presented no workable ideas, nothing to show which direction she would take us. Without this, I can see no compelling reason to change the leadership of the state of Texas at a time when so many things are going right.

As such, I will be supporting Governor Perry in this election. And I encourage all of my friends and family to as well. I will always support the candidate that offers the best alternative for the future of the state. Right now, I see only one.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Cash for Clunkers: A Failure of Big Government

As we are now hearing, the much anticipated "Cash for Clunkers" program is running out of money faster than ever expected. Many are touting this as evidence of the program's incredible success. The truth of the matter is, however, that this program will become an abject failure as it will fail to meet the goals of economic stimulation and demand creation.

To begin with, though President Obama has done his level best to desensitize us to large amounts of government spending, $1 billion is a substantial sum of tax dollars. However, in auto industry terms, it is merely a drop in the bucket and was never enough to stimulate the sector. This is not evidence that it was underfunded, this is evidence that it should never have been undertaken in the first place. The program included enough funding for approximately 250,000 transactions nationwide. Compared to June 2009 auto sales, which were historically low, this program would have increased sales less than 3%. For a billion dollars, that is an unacceptable return on investment.

Here's what the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says about Cash for Clunkers:

"Manufacturers' and dealers' employment levels are unlikely to be impacted by the Act. The impact of the Act will most likely not be large enough to increase production by manufacturers, and dealers on average will only be selling an additional 12 vehicles (250,000 estimated number of vehicles sold during the program divided by 19,700 dealers as of early 2009) during the course of the program."

The program was only available to individuals interested in purchasing a new car. The problem with that is most people who drive "clunkers" as their primary vehicle do it out of need. They do it because they cannot afford a new vehicle. These consumers buy used cars. By eliminating used car purchases from the program, Congress eliminated the only chance they had of actually stimulating demand.

The customers that are taking advantage of this program are customers who were planning to trade-in their vehicle anyway as well as customers who do not use the clunker as their primary vehicle. In fact, many customers surveyed have said that they have actually been postponing their purchase to wait for the government money. Many others surveyed have said that they would have traded the vehicle in within the next 1-2 years anyway. This is not a stimulation of the economy. This is transferring demand that already existed; essentially stealing business from future years to inflate, ever so slightly, current business. Taxpayers are subsidizing people who could afford, and were already planning, to purchase a vehicle.

The program puts an undue burden on dealers nationwide. The application process is horrendously complicated and time consuming. It requires dealers to purchase document scanners. It forces them to front large sums of cash to participate as well.

If a customer purchases a car on Monday, that is when the dealership allots the credits (either $3,500 or $4,500) while the dealership gathers the necessary documentation (proof of insurance for the previous 12 months, proof of registration for the same period, a free and clear title, fuel economy comparison, certification of driveability, as well as others.) Once these documents are collected and the transaction is approved by the lender, the dealer must disable the trade-in before applying for the credits from the government. Once the documents have been scanned and submitted, and the online forms filled out (a process that can take over an hour assuming the site doesn't crash which it has every single day since the program began) the submission goes to a status of "under review." This process can take up to 4 days before you receive an answer.

Now and only now does a dealer find out if they will receive money they have already given a customer. If the application is denied, the dealer must figure out why by an electronic code that accompanies the decline message. At this point they may attempt to resubmit and the process begins again. If, however, in this time period, the program has run out of money, the dealer is left holding the bag on the $3,500 or $4,500 given to the customer and is left with a trade-in that has been disabled and cannot be sold. This is bad for small business and displays a fundamental misunderstanding of the burdens of car dealers.

This program has met none of its stated goals and may do more harm to the auto industry than good. It has cost too much money and now may cost more with little to show for it. This, once again, displays all the evidence you need to know that government should stay out of business.