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Local Car Dealer: “Cash For Clunkers” is a Mess 

Car dealers in Maine and across the country are anxiously awaiting word on the future of the government’s “Cash for Clunkers” program.It’s running out of money, just six days in.And as Amy Erickson tells us, at least one local dealer is worried about losing hundreds of thousands of dollars if the government can’t make good on its promise to reimburse him.”It’s a shame that a program that’s doing what it was intended to do has turned into such a mess.”Ron Russell of Darling’s is talking about the government’s new “Cash for Clunkers” program that started July 24th.It encourages drivers to trade in their gas guzzlers for more fuel-efficient vehicles by offering rebates up to 45-hundred dollars.The program has proven wildly popular. So much so, the government is all but out of funding in less than a week.Russell says better planning could have prevented that.”Most of us could have predicted that this program that was slated for four months would have lasted a matter of days.”Now that the money’s run dry, folks like russell are worried they won’t get reimbursed for all the rebates they’ve already given for “Clunkers.” “We’ve done 79…that’s more than $300,000 that we’ve put out to consumers and yet we haven’t received a dime from the government. Not a penny.”Russell says it wouldn’t be so bad if he was making huge profits on the sales of the new, energy-efficient cars, but that’s not the case.”This car, for example, right here, there’s a $300-$400 profit for the dealer and we’re risking $4500 to realize that.”Legislators are now pushing for additional money to keep “Cash for Clunkers” going until it’s planned end date of November first.Russell hopes that happens. He says if the government isn’t able to reimburse the dealers who’ve already handed out the rebates the results could be disastrous. “For some dealers in this market, it could be a death blow.””It would be sad indeed if the outcome of it was to put more dealers out of business.”A bill that provides an additional 2-billion dollars in funding has passed in the House.