Town hall on health care reform
U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Savannah, will hold a series of healthcare town hall meetings this week. Nine meetings are scheduled through District 1.
The closest meeting to our area is in 11 a.m. to noon Aug. 5 at Altamaha Technical College in Jesup.
For a complete schedule, visit http://kingston.house.gov/townhall/.
Liberty County residents joined hundreds of thousands of other car buyers recently, flocking to vehicle lots to take advantage of the government-sponsored Car Allowance Rebate System (CARS) or “cash for clunkers.”
The program allows consumers to trade in an old car for a $3,500-$4,500 credit toward a new car that gets better gas mileage — all on the government’s dime. The concept was designed to get more fuel-efficient cars on the road and boost the car industry.
The stimulus plan yielded quick results. Far more drivers signed up for “cash for clunkers” than vehicle dealers expected, blowing through the initial $1 billion set aside by Congress. The House voted Friday to replenish the program with $2 billion, setting up likely Senate action later this week.
The House pulled the money from another program in the economic stimulus package.
Some 20 to 25 buyers came to Hinesville’s NeSmith Chevrolet with clunkers dating back to the mid-1990s and cars manufactured as recently as 2003, according to general manager Mike Reed.
“The positive offshoot is obviously it stimulates a national and local economy,” Reed said. “Whether the momentum of this big train can keep going will be determine by this overall economy.”
He said he approached the program with caution.
“It is, of course, a government program and I would tell you an extremely complicated program,” Reed said.
On top of a five- to seven-day approval process, at least 11 documents need to be filled out for every “cash for clunkers” transaction.
“So there’s a lot of caveats,” Reed said. “It’s a little like filing your income taxes, except it’s a little more complicated.”
And any little hiccup in the scanned or e-mailed application packets can kick them back.
“You can take several hours to submit one application because you keep getting bumped off the Internet,” Reed said. “It’s a matter of patience and prudence.”
U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Savannah, said he did not support the stimulus bill or the “cash for clunkers” program. But he does understand the extension.
“I think it was a reasonable vote today and should have some good results,” Kingston said Friday. “The advantage is that this is a decentralized distribution of the stimulus that does create jobs and lowers our national consumption of gasoline.”
But because of the apprehension surrounding the program recently, Hinesville Ford’s management decided to hold out for a bit.
“They’re saying on the news that’s it’s probably going to be put on hold because they’re running out of money,” said salesman Jason Massey. “We were getting signed up for it, but the money was pretty much run out.”
The timeline for federal reimbursement to dealers have not been completely carved out.
“It’s still kind of up in the air,” said Reed, who added that sales have been up 50 percent in the past two months — and not all from the military.
“We’re seeing a lot of local, everyday folks coming in and buying cars,” Reed said. He thinks people are just waiting for the right opportunity and the right time to buy.
“You can’t sell from an empty wagon, as the old saying goes, so my wagon is full,” Reed said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.