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Letters: Cash for clunkers isn't good policy

A recent editorial praised the "cash for clunkers" program proclaiming that it was "stimulating the U.S. economy."

Unfortunately, this editorial did not tell the whole story. The original concept was patterned after a similar program designed to stimulate jobs and economic growth in Germany. The original U.S. program, likewise, was developed and "sold" as a stimulus to create American jobs and help "jumpstart" the U.S. economy. Regrettably, when the final program was approved by Congress, politicians on both sides of the aisle failed to include appropriate safeguards to ensure that American tax dollars were used to create real American jobs rather than incentivizing jobs in foreign countries.

For example, vehicles produced by domestic manufacturers typically contain 80 percent or higher American content (parts and labor.) By contrast, foreign manufacturers typically have less than 40 percent American content even though some vehicles are assembled in the U.S. Several foreign products, in fact, have zero American content.

As a result, hundreds of millions of "cash for clunkers" taxpayer dollars are now being spent to create jobs in other countries while "hard-strapped" American workers are standing in unemployment lines. Does this make sense for America?

It also is a fact that today's American-made vehicles are equal to or, in some cases, better than foreign competition in terms of quality, safety, reliability and MPG performance. For example, few would dispute that the best pickups in the world are made in America by American workers.

Recently, Ford's 2010 Fusion Hybrid was rated "best in class" against all family-sized competitors including Japan's two major auto producers. In addition to first class products, domestic companies employ hundreds of thousands of American workers, provide healthcare and pension plans and pay the highest corporate taxes in the world, all of which greatly benefit the American economy.

In contrast, foreign producers contribute very little, or in some cases, almost nothing, in terms of job creation, tax revenues or other economic benefits for the U.S.

Spending hard-earned tax dollars to create American jobs may be a good idea, but spending these same tax dollars to create jobs in foreign countries is not only a bad idea, it is also a disastrous economic policy.

A.L. Kleinke, Nevis