Before heading home to face the anger at the now infamous health care “town halls,” Congress rushed through an extension to what was then considered a popular program: Cash for Clunkers. Then, like much of the August break, Cash for Clunkers went sideways as critics picked apart the program’s weaknesses, consumers stopped showing up with so many clunkers, and dealers started making noise about something as simple as when they might actually get the rebate money that the government promised.
So, what do you do when you have a poorly-conceived and ill-managed project winding down (Clunkers expires at 8 p.m. eastern on August 24)? Kick off another one, even more poorly thought out, and gloss it with an equally catchy name: Cash for Refrigerators. Beginning in the fall, consumers will have access – through existing state-level energy efficiency incentive programs – $300 million in stimulus funds made available as rebates for energy efficient appliances.