Ok, so we just heard about the "success" of Cash For Clunkers.
(Well, maybe it is great for new car guys who sell a lot of 4Bangers. But Usedcarsalesman is a Used car guy so he isn't seeing any money from this great new federal program).
The feds messing with car buying incentives, tax deductions or tax exclusions has been a bit of a running thing for going on the last 20 years.
Bill Clinton came in to office in '92, and he signed in a luxury tax on high-end automobiles. So to circumvent this addition to the federal tax code, many in the general public decided to buy SUVs -- many of which are the so-called clunkers of today.
(Usedcarsalesman also has a fond recollection of an Environmentalist girl-friend who enthusiastically explained to him in '92 that her Mother was buying a Range Rover since it was a luxury truck that side-stepped the tax hit newly imposed on high-end cars. Such was the political "polarity reversal" that changes in the tax code could seem to induce).
Obviously, the Cash for Clunkers programs isn't going to do a hell of a lot for urban air quality and at best, we might see a few more dealership owners on golf courses than in the last fiscal year (indicative of the extent of the economic stimulus). And frankly, the only reason those cars/trucks are clunkers is because their former owners didn't know $hit about taking care of a vehicle or otherwise keeping it in optimum tune; Usedcarsalesman has, for example, witnessed a well-maintained, 91 Ford Explorer with 300k+ get 20mpg in the city and 26mpg on the highway )
But I will give Cash for Clunkers this: It has prodded a few people off the car-buying fence. And things in motion tend to stay in motion, right?