With the official kick-off date for the Cash For Clunkers program CARS just over a week away, people are already saying it's really too little, too short. Last week, Auto Alliance president Dave McCurdy said that Congress could expand the program, and now some economists interviewed by Reuters are predicting that the overall effect on the economy (and, therefore, on the environment as well) will not be very large. A senior economist at Wachovia told Reuters that, "It's a very small number of people that this plan will end up helping."

One reason that the plan won't have as big an impact as it could is that people can only get a rebate for turning in a car that is, at most, 18 mpg. That's always seemed like an arbitrary and low number (a sliding scale, where the new car needs to be X mpg better than the clunker is a better idea), and a little tidbit from NPR reveals why: one of the reasons that 18 mpg was set as the upper limit in the CARS bill was that charitable organizations requested it, since they were worried that a higher limit would negatively effect vehicle donations.

[Source: Reuters, NPR]