The well-to-do -- who can more easily afford to buy a new car -- get the benefits. I can't afford to buy a new car at all, regardless of my current mpg and regardless of $3000. Can I buy a VW Jetta TDI (capable of passing California's emission standards, 41 mpg highway) for $3k? Uhhhhh ... ... no. They're about $25k. (I would like one, though. Salsa Red.) It is, however, the 4th most fuel-efficient car on the market.
The other 3 models with better mileage also cost more. I notice that none of them are American. I also notice that my 9 year old VW Passat wagon gets 23 mpg around town, which puts it ahead of the brand-new Chevy at #11.
This does nothing to reduce our reliance on petroleum based fuel. In fact, it encourages us to continue to buy it, rather than switch to other engine types or mass transit. If the people don't feel the pain, they won't change their behavior.
And ... what does more for the economy? Me buying a used car outright (i.e., no loan), or me paying interest to some blood-sucking financial institution? I replaced my '99 VW with an '00 VW in January. Yes, I bought an 9 year old car. I was stuck with the insurance check from the ditz who totaled my 25 mpg car (which was 10 years old). Know what? you can't get much for $5400.
Never the less, my money is currently going to pay for food, clothes, school, etc. Where is it going? Into our lagging economy. Or my savings account, so that when my husband loses his job, we can pay our mortgage. Where is the money going for all of these people buying new cars? Into the blood-sucking gaping maw of money lending agencies, who sure aren't putting it back into the economy. Not even paying themselves bonuses puts much money into the economy. Where is this $3000 for a junker coming from? Our taxes. Which are being paid by everyone.
I would rather pay for unemployment benefits to be extended another week rather than for someone to buy a new car. Can't the government find something useful to do with my tax dollars? Like extend unemployment benefits or pay for COBRA? Support programs that refurbish homes in blighted neighborhood to encourage people to move there? Extend the tax write-off you can get by donating your car to charity organizations?
This rebate is superficial, feel-good legislation that lets us pretend our problems are being fixed.Stop pandering to financial lending-institutions by "giving away" money to encourage people to borrow money. The only agency which benefits is the bank. Because this new car buying spree means more people pay more interest on their loans. More interest to bank = less money for them.