Boondoggle DuJour

With reports that people are using this program to buy Lexus and other foreign cars, “cash for clunkers” is already broke down.

The US government will suspend the popular cash for clunkers program after almost four days, telling Congress they’ll burn through the $950 million budget by midnight. UPDATE: The Freep claims White House sources tell them the program’s not been suspended.

Holy flip-flop, Batman! If the numbers the Department of Transportation claims they received from NADA are true, it would mean over 21,000 work trucks and 242,000 cars were potentially sold. But that flies in the face of the Freep now reporting White House official denying these reports late today that the program was suspended, and claiming all valid deals would be honored. Officials at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue are now seeking ways to send additional money to the program; the U.S. House was set to adjourn Friday for a month-long break.

The decision to suspend the plan came after auto dealers warned the government today that it was in danger of losing track of how many trades had actually been made.

Gee, how much fraud and abuse do you think this program will incur? One of the stupidest things about it is they want the old cars to be destroyed. This administration is insane. They define a clunker as any car getting less than 18 on the highway. That covers most of the cars out there.

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  1. They’ve already agreed to dump another 2 billion into it. I would like to point out that a person’s heart takes an entire lifetime to beat 2 billion times.
    And the economic stupidity of pouring 3 billion into a massive giveaway and then claiming it boosts the economy is yet another demonstration of this administration’s belief in the cash tooth fairy. Guys, if you take 3 billion from one group of people and give it to another, the first group loses 3 billion that they could have spent. It’s a wash.
    Worse, the cars being traded in are, by definition, clunkers. Which means the owners would have bought new cars soon anyway. Another huge waste of money that takes cash from me and gives it to other people who didn’t earn it, for no useful purpose. Then again, that’s the major activity of this administration, isn’t it?

  2. It’s stupid on so many levels.

    First, it has people turn in perfectly good, presumably paid for cars and exchange them for new debt at a time when our debt isa huge problem. So it is getting many people into more debt in a bad economy.

    Secondly, all it does is move the purchase of a car ahead from where it would have been. Except now, because they destroy the old cars, it removes used cars from inventory which will presumably make such cars more expensive. They stupidly destroy usable cars and sell the parts to China who will build new cars with them and sell them back to us. It’s insane waste.

    More importantly, it shows that they have no idea how to estimate the cost of a program. I they were so wrong about this one (it was supposed to last 4 months and lasted 4 days) just think how far their health care estimates must be off.

  3. When has the government EVER been able to estimate costs on the programs it manages?

    Take for instance the recently cancelled F-22/ATF fighter production.

    Original program cost per plane was supposed to be $35 million in 1985 dollars. (How the heck they figured that out when even the F-14 and F-15 were costing that much back then is beyond me…!) Even with inflation since 1985, the unit cost should still have been below $100 million a plane!

    Lo and behold, the program gets stretched and the F-22s enter service 10 years AFTER the original planned service entry date with production cut to 1/4 the original program estimate of 750 planes. Costs have escalated to $250 million PER plane! Note that this includes spare parts and servicing through the projected (minimum) 25-30 year lifespan of an F-22 airframe.

    Of course now every Congressman with a vendor in his district for the F-22 wants to extend production of the plane beyond the 187-frame limit. This includes the Liberals who hate military spending on top of people who are hawkish on government overspending!

    You tell me what’s a better use of money — improving what’s already in service with PROVEN new technology and partial rebuilds (much cheaper than buying all-new systems BTW), OR spending money on unproven tech?

    What generally happens with new production programs is that the Feds stop buying spares for what’s already being used in the field ON TOP OF reducing training. So, now you’re sending less experienced people to war along with equipment that breaks down more often or has to have parts cannibalized from other systems because enough spare parts haven’t been bought!

    I’ve never understood the drive by the federal establishment to scrap “old stuff” just because it’s “old” and not take the approach of evolving things and making existing systems more modular. Modular systems are easier to evolve and less expensive in the long run than this “all-in-one” build it at once crap that get’s done with so many things when they get introduced. Modularity is one advantage that home computer systems have today over their predecessors of decades past…

  4. Well, the F-22 was necessary. With the advances in SAMs, there is a new term for non-stealthy aircraft in a war zone: “target drones.”
    I agree the military procurement process is hopelessly corrupted by congressmen scrambling for pork, and the insane “cost plus” contracts.

    The F-35 is pretty modular.

  5. I forgot this. Beck found the following sign-in agreement on the CARS site. It’s mind-boggling, and a sign of what lies ahead for us in the Brave New World of Obama. Where are all the liberals who were wetting themselves over the Patriot Act?

    “This application provides to the DoT CARS system. When logged on to the CARS system, your computer is considered a federal computer system and it is property of the United States government. Any and all uses of this system and all files on this system may be intercepted, monitored, recorded, copied, audited, inspected, and disclosed to authorized CARS, DoT and law enforcement personnel, as well as authorized officials of other agencies, both domestic and foreign.”

    Gee, I can’t wait to hit the “I accept” button. This should be all over the news. Why isn’t it?

  6. Toren,

    The F-22 (as it was originally envisaged — not what ultimately got produced) was necessary in a warzone that envisioned the US taking on the cream of the enemy — the Soviet empire envisioned in the late 1970s through mid-1980s, not the reality of the situation. Even then, it’d still have to be supported by conventional EW/radar-jamming planes because no one airframe can carry all the survival equipment needed in a Vietnam-like air defense system. F-117s had to be supported by massive amounts of other planes — including EW planes like the EF-111A and EA-6B — in spite of a lot of the hype reported during the first Gulf War. Years later, it turned out some of our allies COULD track the F-117 on older radar equipment fairly well and there’s evidence that at least one F-117 was taken down by fairly unsophisticated systems in Yugoslavia, too.

    Regardless, all F-117s were grounded early last year and the survivors (all production series, not pre-production frames) were placed into storage in a secure base in Nevada. (NOT Area 51! 🙂 )

    Stealth planes are generally inferior to most other planes in terms of speed, payload, range, and maintainability. The single biggest ding against both the B-2 and the F-117 was the fact that they were hangar queens. They spend (spent in the F-117’s case) more time being primped and preened because of delicate anti-radar surface coatings instead of being flown. One rainstorm is enough to ding the surface of either aircraft and force a return to base for repainting. The surfaces are that delicate and produce so much radar return if they get damaged! There’s growing evidence that the F-22 is a hangar queen, too. That’s just not good news to the taxypayer and the servicemen who have to maintain these systems.

    A conventional war with a competent, well-equipped enemy is just not going to happen today unless the Chinese suddenly advance 40 years in a leap of technology and get as much equipment and competent people as the US has.

    It’s one thing to buy this tech from another country, it’s another to have a stable of technicians who can actually understand the manuals that come with the equipment and keep it operating. Iran certainly couldn’t do that after the US withdrew support for all that equipment the US government sold to the Shah in the 1970s. Nobody but the US can afford the kind of military we’ve had for over 20 years, and nobody that’s an authoritarian dicatorship will do it any time soon, either. With the state of their problems with unrest in the Western lands bordering Islamic states and their government’s preoccupation with satisfying the military bureaucrazy (sp intended) on top of keeping the city folk pacified, I just don’t see the Chinese coalescing as the threat the Soviets/Russians were at one time.

    The bigger, more immediate threats are smaller countries acquiring nukes and the kind of insurgent wars fought in Asia from the 1950s through 1980s.

    It’s kind of ironic, for instance, that the best bomber ever fielded by the USAF was designed in the late 1940s. The youngest B-52s in service were delivered by 1964 and so far have outlasted at half-dozen or more intended replacements — only 1 of which actually entered production (B-1B) in half-decent numbers. The other designs never got past the design phase, were experimental-only (XB-70), or entered in such low numbers that it’s very likely they (B-2) will be retired before the last B-52 leaves service…

    It’s all about building the best system for service that’s adaptable. For a variety of reasons, defense contractors have lost the bulk of ability to do that in recent decades.

  7. The story about F-117s being tracked by low-band radar is true. One problem–low band produces so much crap and clutter that it’s all but useless. Studies have shown the threat is minimal except in certain specific conditions, and the F-117s no longer fly in those conditions. Learning is a beautiful thing.
    Yes, modern military aircraft need extensive and sophisticated C3. So? A Civil War regiment was quite simple to operate, but certainly lacks the effectiveness of a modern unit.
    You seem to know your stuff about aircraft (and probably much more) but I do have some disagreements. I’ve heard nothing about the B-2 or F-22 being hangar queens, but maybe so. I consider it unlikely, but okay. The B-2 has, despite any problems, been highly effective and has no equivalent in battle.
    The B-52 is an amazing survival but without stealth aircraft to obtain complete air supremacy, they are nothing more than targets.
    Mini-states will certainly (already do) have access to high-tech weaponry from the Russians (hungry for hard cash) and the Chinese (eager to amortize their weapons development costs). Russia is already soliciting orders for their new stealth fighter. Chinese AA missiles capable of taking out any non-stealth aircraft at any altitude are already sold to many countries. The Chinese recently announced the development of a weapon whose sole purpose is to take out a carrier group. Whatever do they need that for? Hmm.
    Makes ya think.
    Personally, I can’t imagine anything more important to develop for modern warfare than anti-missile technology. But for some baffling reason the liberals are insanely against it, have been since Star Wars, and are now happily gutting even the limited programs we have going. It’s rather frustrating.

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