The White House has again used its official blog to attack the media, this time with a combative post directed at automotive industry press that posted data showing that taxpayers were on the hook for $24,000 for each car sold under the government’s Cash for Clunkers program.
Edmunds.com, an online car buying guide, reported Wednesday that Cash for Clunkers paid out $24,000 for every car that was brought to market under the program, which issued rebates between $3,500 and $4,500 towards the purchase of an energy efficient car. Edmunds said their data showed only 125,000 of the 690,000 cars sold during the time the rebates were offered could be attributed to the program, leading to the high cost per vehicle.”The rest of the sales would have happened anyway, regardless of the existence of the program,” the Edmunds report said.
White House Director of New Media Macon Phillips wrote an invective post about Edmunds on the executive branch’s official blog, sarcastically saying, “In other words, all the other cars were being sold on Mars, while the rest of the country was caught up in the excitement of the Cash for Clunkers program.”
Mr. Phillips also said the Edmunds analysis appeared “designed to grab headlines and get coverage on cable TV,” was based on “implausible assumptions” and was “bombastic,” among other things. He ended by urging White House blog readers to “put on your space suit and compare” their analysis to Edmunds’.
Edmunds responded with a much more level-headed statement.
It said, “Apparently, the $24,000 figure caught many by surprise. It shouldn’t have. The truth is that consumer incentive programs are always hugely expensive when calculated by incremental sales — always in the tens of thousands of dollars. Cash for Clunkers was no exception. The White House claims that our analysis was based on car sales on Mars and that on Earth, the marketplace is connected. We agree the marketplace is connected. In fact, that is exactly the basis of our analysis…With all respect to the White House, Edmunds.com thinks that instead of shooting the messenger, government officials should take heart from the core message of the analysis: the fundamentals of the auto marketplace are improving faster than the current sales numbers suggest. Isn’t this a piece of good news we can all cheer?”