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Cash for Clunkers a Bad Deal? 

As the Obama administration triples the number of workers processing Cash for Clunkers transactions as some dealers complain the government has been slow to reimburse them for the car incentives, used car dealers say the program could have benefited more people. “I think they’re wasting a lot of good cars, a lot of cars gotta a lot of time left in them, and with all the cars being crushed, parts are going to be even scarcer.” says Dan Witham. Witham owns Dan’s Used Cars and Parts in Benton. He’s says even though business is up this year he adds that lower income Mainers who could have benefited from the clunkers being resold are being left out of the widely popular progam. With some hundreds of thousands of clunkers being crushed Witham expects it to be harder to find spare parts for older models. Senator Susan Collins has also expressed her disappointment in the program saying, “It is unfortunate that the House did not stay in session to work to improve the program by increasing fuel efficiency requirements and including a voucher for consumers who purchase fuel-efficient used cars instead of just new cars.”The Cash for Clunkers program, as expected, has been a boon for carmakers — especially those in Japan and South Korea. Government data shows that while 54 percent of the top-10-selling vehicles were manufactured domestically, eight out of 10 carry Japanese or South Korean nameplates. The Toyota Corolla is the most popular car bought under the program. Only the Ford Focus and the Ford Escape cracked the top 10. American automakers are dominating one area — trade-ins. All the top trade-ins were made by U.S. companies, with the Ford Explorer four-wheel-drive leading the pack. The government data show that fuel economy of vehicles bought under Cash for Clunkers is now 25 miles per gallon, while the mileage of trade-ins stands at 15.8 miles per gallon.As for the backlog of Cash for Clunker applications from new dealerships an administration official says the Transportation Department hopes to have 1,100 public and private sector workers processing the vouchers by the end of the week. That’s up from 350 through the end of last week. The official was not authorized to discuss the work force issues publicly and spoke on the condition of anonymity. Dealers have reported submitting tens of thousands of dollars worth of rebates for repayment. But many of the reimbursements are still pending. The car program offers vouchers of $3,500 or $4,500.