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Pioneer Editor: 'Cash for Clunkers' is stimulus

Car dealers are back in business as Congress sent President Barack Obama on Thursday night another $2 billion for the "Cash for Clunkers" program.

Congress and the president have been struggling with ways to jump start an economy in recession, and earlier this year passed a $787 billion economic stimulus bill. The monies there are surging through the economy but none has had the widespread impact as the Cash for Clunkers program.

The program was found to be so successful that it soon ran out of the $1 billion appropriated for it. In fact, had not the Senate acted on the additional funds Thursday, the program would have been suspended today. The program would have otherwise only run for 10 days.

But Americans used the money to help purchase 250,000 new cars, giving the automobile industry the shot in the arm it needed. The additional funds will allow Americans to buy 500,000 more vehicles.

Cash for Clunkers allows people to trade in certain older models for up to $4,500 credit on a new, energy-saving vehicle that gets at least 28 miles per gallon and the old car less than 18 miles per gallon. A $3,500 voucher is available if the new car is getting at least 22 mpg.

It's obvious the American people have embraced the program, as the initial transaction generates more than a 50 percent in fuel economy, generating $700 to $1,000 in annual savings, President Obama said in a statement as the bill headed to his desk. "And they are getting the oldest, dirtiest and most air polluting trucks and SUVs off the road for good,"

As part of Cash for Clunkers, the traded-in vehicles must not be resold and must be destroyed.

So only is the program instilling consumer confidence to purchase such a big-ticket item as a new car, it is also removing gas-guzzling vehicles from American roads, thus promoting a cleaner atmosphere and less reliance on foreign oil.

That seems like stimulus funding with a huge return for the investment.