Tag Archives: auto bailout

Auto Dealers Ending Their Cash for (Political) Clunkers Program

cash-for-clunkers-we-can-helpThe nation’s largest auto dealers association has apparently decided to end its long standing participation in the Cash for (Political) Clunkers program.

An historically dependable source of income for Republicans in the House and Senate, the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) has long contributed about twice as much to Republican election campaigns than to Democrats.

In 2008, the NADA gave $968,000 to Democrats and $1,892,000 to Republicans ($923,000 to House Democrats and $1,679,500 to House Republicans; $45,000 to Senate Democrats and $212,500 to Senate Republicans).

In 2006, the results were similar – the NADA gave $842,600 to Democrats and $1,978,500 to Republicans ($752,600 to House Democrats and $1,827,000 to House Republicans; $90,000 to Senate Democrats and $151,500 to Senate Republicans).

The ratio was also similar in 2004 – the NADA gave $714,500 to Democrats and $1,888,800 to Republicans ($630,500 to House Democrats and $1,698,800 to House Republicans; $84,000 to Senate Democrats and $190,000 to Senate Republicans).

But for the 2010 election, the Auto Dealers’ political contributions have dramatically shifted gears.

So far, the NADA has given $134,300 to Democrats and only $43,000 to Republicans.  This figure includes $101,800 to House Democrats and $43,000 to House Republicans, and $32,500 to Senate Democrats and nothing at all to Senate Republicans.

The reasons for this unprecedented shift in the Auto Dealers’ political allegiance is pretty obvious: The Republicans have told Detroit and the nation’s auto dealers to drop dead, opposing both the Obama administration’s bailout of the U.S. auto industry and it’s hugely popular “Cash for Clunkers” program.

Here in Orange County, Republicans in Congress have benefited enormously in the past from the NADA’s political contributions.

In 2008, John Campbell (R-48th CD) – an auto dealer himself — received $10,000 from the NADA, which was the largest amount they gave to individual campaigns that year.  In  2006, the year that he was elected to his first full term, they gave Campbell $20,000, also the largest amount given to any campaign and twice as much as they gave to anyone else.

Dana Rohrabacher (R-46th CD) received $7,500 from the NADA in 2008, $5,000 in 2006, and $10,000 in 2004.

Ken Calvert (R-44th CD) also received $7,500 from the NADA in 2008, as well as $5,000 in 2006 and $5,000 in 2004.

What did the auto dealers get for their money?

Recently, not much.

On the Auto Industry Financing and Restructuring Act, the auto bail out bill, Campbell voted “present” (citing his personal financial interest), while criticizing those who voted in favor.

Calvert voted “No,” calling it the “nationalization of the auto industry,” and Rohrabacher did not bother to vote at all.

On the Consumer Assistance to Recycle and Save (CARS) program (the Cash for Clunkers bill), Campbell did vote “Aye” against his party, (apparently no longer concerned about his personal financial stake in the auto dealer business), as did Calvert, but Rohrabacher voted “No,” complaining that the bill is “nothing more than a subsidy to prop up auto manufacturers, many of which have already received billions in taxpayer money.”

As we get closer to the 2010 campaign, we’ll see whether the auto dealers again make the mistake they’ve made in the past of giving cash to these political clunkers.

So far, it seems that they’ve shifted gears and are driving in another political direction.

But Baby, Obama Wants Me to Drive a Fiat X1/9

Of all the cars that I’ve owned, my favorite was a yellow and black 1975 Fiat X1/9.

fiat21Designed by Nuccio Bertone, the X1/9 was a two-seater, hardtop convertible with a mid 1489 cc. engine and a five-speed transmission.

It was beautifully styled and it handled like a dream.

It was tremendous fun driving this sleek little skateboard on the freeway.

The only real problem was the carburetor, which kept failing when it idled.

And you couldn’t get parts, except by scavenging the junkyards.

And the mechanics here in Southern California would just laugh if you asked them to fix it.

I learned to keep it going (most of the time) using a combination of toothpicks and rubber bands.

(Really).

Then my son was born.

My wife said:

The Fiat X1/9 is not a car for a parent.

There’s no room for a baby seat.

There’s no room for anything.

A sleek yellow skateboard racing down the freeway isn’t a very safe place for a child.

There are no air bags.

There isn’t much of anything between the driver and the road.

And Fiat’s reputation for unreliability doesn’t inspire the confidence that parents require.

You need a car that doesn’t require a toolkit of rubber bands and toothpicks.

So my Fiat X1/9 was abandoned for a safer, more sensible car, one that was appropriate for a “Baby On Board” sign.

My current car is a Chrysler PT Cruiser Turbo convertible.  All in all, a reliable but fun car with plenty of room for the kid, the dog, and the scout troop equipment.

But it isn’t half as much fun as the Fiat X1/9.

Over time, giving up the X1/9 came to symbolize my belated transition into adulthood and responsibility.

But now President Obama insists that my Chrysler must become a Fiat.

fiat52My son no longer needs to sit in a rear seat.

Is it time to talk to the wife about getting an X1/9 again?

Not just for me, of course.

But as a show of support for our president.

Best American Car Songs (Now with Video Links!)

pink-cadillac-car-posters

The news about the death of the U.S. auto industry has gotten me thinking about all the great music that American cars have inspired.

Here is a list of some of my favorites:

Pink Cadillac (Bruce Springsteen)
Fun Fun Fun (Beach Boys)
Little Deuce Coupe (Beach Boys)
You Can’t Catch Me (Chuck Berry)
Brand New Cadillac (The Clash)
Mud on the Tires (Brad Paisley)
Long White Cadillac (Dave Alvin)
Mercury Blues (Alan Jackson)
Little Red Corvette (Prince)
Guitars, Cadillacs (Dwight Yoakam)
Hot Rod Lincoln (Junior Brown/Commandor Cody)
Mustang Sally (Wilson Pickett)
Ball and Chain (Social Distortion)
Thunder Road (Bruce Springsteen)
Pontiac Blues (Sonny Boy Williamson)
Racing in the Streets (Bruce Springsteen)
Rocket 88 (Jackie Brenston with Ike Turner)
Chevrolet (Donovan)

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409 (Beach Boys)
Dead Man’s Curve (Jan and Dean)
Surf City (Beach Boys)
Blue Chevrolet (Beat Farmers)
Gun Street Girl (Tom Waits)
16 Shells from a Thirty-Ought Six (Tom Waits)

Feel free to add your own.

One rule:

The song must mention a particular American car or car company.