Connecticut Attorney General's Office

Press Release

Attorney General, CT Auto Dealers Association Ask Feds To Fix Problems With "Cash For Clunkers" Program

August 20, 2009

Attorney General Richard Blumenthal today called on the U.S. Department of Transportation to reform practices and procedures hindering the success of its "Cash for Clunkers" program.

Blumenthal and Connecticut Automotive Retailers Association President James T. Fleming both called the program a success, but added that certain requirements and procedures are creating needless headaches for consumers and retailers.

Blumenthal and Fleming requested in a letter to meet with U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Secretary Raymond H. LaHood. They outlined problems with the program and asked LaHood to:

  • Expedite the processing of dealer applications for credits;

  • Allow consumers to keep used vehicles while applications for credits are processed;

  • Provide tracking numbers or invoices for credits to ease dealer accounting and recordkeeping;

  • Allow dealers access to electronic applications rejected for errors so they can fix them more quickly;

  • Set a deadline for the program to avoid confusion and anxiety.

Blumenthal said, "This automotive model needs a tune-up. Cash for clunkers is stalling due to its success. Common sense reforms are vital to remove roadblocks and delays in Washington D. C. -- faster federal payments, better recordkeeping streamlined process. Recent reassurances about reimbursement and staff increases are no substitute for reforming the process.

"Already a success story, this program needs some quick and simple work under the hood to make it hum. Many dealers now risk $4,500, and many consumers lose use of their old cars, without receiving new ones -- while waiting for government sign off. If the feds fail to green light reforms, dealers and consumers will red light the program.

"We ask Secretary LaHood to meet with us to prove this promising partnership can work. We must talk before dealers and consumers walk. The causes of economic revival, energy efficiency, environment and national security are too important to sacrifice," Blumenthal added.

Fleming said, "Two hundred and seventy dealerships, 13,000 people employed in those dealerships and thousands of Connecticut consumers are benefiting from this program. We need to fix it now, and we have some simple suggestions for Secretary LaHood as to how to do that, but we need his help on this now. One hundred car dealers in New York have pulled out of the program today. We want to avoid this occurring in our state. Our dealers and consumers, our economy and our environment deserve better."

Under the program, consumers are eligible for up to a $4,500 federal credit if they trade in older, gas-guzzlers for new, more fuel efficient models. The old vehicles are scrapped. The program reduces gas consumption and air pollution, while increasing sales for struggling car dealers and manufacturers.