"I'm happy to report that it has succeeded well beyond our expectations and all expectations," President Obama said.
But for car dealers success is a relative term, reports CBS News correspondent Jeff Glor
Jim Russomano at Nutley Chevrolet in northern New Jersey sold three extra cars this week thanks to the government's one billion dollar rebate program but the website where Russomano and thousands of other dealers are supposed to file claims was still crashing today - and he's worried he's cutting deals that might not get reimbursed.
"It's a lot more complicated than we thought," Russomano said. "I don't think any dealers are in a position to lose 35 to 40 thousand dollars they've already written."
The program, which offers drivers of old, qualifying gas guzzlers $3,500-4,500 toward the purchase of new, more fuel efficient vehicles, was also criticized for being too complicated - the qualifications ran 8 pages long.
Keeping track of sales seems just as complicated. Last night the government said it would suspend the program after fears it burned through all its money well before the scheduled November 1 end date.
"Nobody is really sure how much money has been spent and whether or not the program has already run out of money," said Karl Brauer, editor in chief of Edmunds.
The White House quickly said, "no, keep going" - and this afternoon the House, in a highly unusual move, temporarily shelved other business to set aside $2 billion extra for the program with notable dissent.
"Maybe we should have a 'Cash for Cluckers' program and pay people to eat chicken," said Jeb Hensnarling, R-Texas. "And after that we can have a program to pay people to buy TVs and then a program to pay people to buy lumber."
Still, it passed by two-thirds majority and sales continue flowing. One New York dealership was writing eight clunker deals today alone.
Success, contention and confusion. "Cash for Clunkers" seems to have it all. Tonight a spokesperson for the program acknowledged to CBS News they're just not sure exactly how many cars have qualified, or how much "clunker" money has been used - leaving an open question as to whether the extra 2 billion is even needed.