Senator Coburn on Whether Clunkers Are Really Being Traded in for More Fuel-Efficient Cars

This is a rush transcript from "Your World With Neil Cavuto," August 5, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: Well, quit clunking around and bring cash for clunkers to a vote. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid telling his colleagues they will work into the weekend if they don't vote to extend the program soon, a program that was billed as a way to get gas guzzlers off the road.

But check out the guzzlers that are on the list to buy and get on the road, the Hummer pickup truck, the Chevy Suburban, the GMC Yukon, not exactly the first vehicles you would think of when you say fuel-efficient, a reason why Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma will be voting no.

Senator, where does this stand right now, as far as its extension?

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SEN. TOM COBURN (R), OKLAHOMA: Well, it will go through probably the Senate tomorrow. They are negotiating on amendments will be offered.

They have the votes to bring this bill through, so there is no reason to use parliamentary procedures to slow it down. We can't stop it. But there's an — Neil, there's an interesting — if you go to and look at their commentary on this program, you will see that the average cost for every car that — that would not have been traded in that is traded in is about $45,000.

It's a pretty interesting commentary by the people who are one of the leaders in terms of the analysis of the automobile market...


CAVUTO: But, you know, I have actually heard that argument, and one of things that to justify even, allowing for that, if it's true — and is hard to dispute on these things — cars are — are moving again, SUVs are moving again.



CAVUTO: And is the thing that got them moving again, great.

That's what they say. What do you say?

COBURN: Oh, I think it is a fiscal stimulus. It is a fairly unfair one, because, if you need a washing machine at home, but you don't need a card, the government is going to empower somebody to buy a car, but not empower you to buy your washing machine.

So, what this is, is a gift to American taxpayers. It is not a tax credit. And it's just a gift. But it's very disproportionate to those who happen to need a car right now.

CAVUTO: But it's a gift that's going to keep giving, right, because...


COBURN: No, it's not. It's a gift that you're taking....


CAVUTO: Where — handicap it for me, then. Then — then what do you think...


COBURN: Well, let me handicap it for you.


CAVUTO: I am talking about the $2 billion extension. You're going to get that, or — or...

COBURN: The $2 billion will become $6 billion by the time my grandkids pay it off. That is number one.

Number two is, we have $11.6 trillion worth of debt. This time next year, we're going to $13.6 trillion worth of debt, and it doesn't have any comparison to what the unfunded liabilities are, which...


CAVUTO: I understand. But, if you don't mind, sir, I would like to go back to the clunkers. You're quite right on probably where these deficits are going.

But, on this clunker program, you think it probably will be extended, much to your chagrin. Would it be extended again after that? If it is deemed successful, as the administration seems to think, will they keep funding it?

COBURN: Oh, I think you will have the momentum to keep doing it and keep doing it and keep doing it.

And it's kind of ironic. We're going to — we're going to take money from taxpayers to...


COBURN: ... entice people to buy cars to — from companies that the taxpayers already own...

CAVUTO: All right.

COBURN: ... which they have not paid off.

CAVUTO: Senator, good having you.

COBURN: And I would — I would also note that over 50 percent of those cars are not American-made, or at least 50 percent of them are not American-made.

CAVUTO: That's — well, that's a whole 'nother wrinkle, a whole 'nother wrinkle for another show.

Senator, thank you in the meantime.

COBURN: You're welcome.

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