Dealers Took the Clunkers, Now Want Cash

Don Mushin says he's already done his part on the clunkers. Now he wants to be paid back. CBS

Don Mushin is the boss at a Los Angeles Toyota dealership. But these days he has a new title on his door: "Colonel Clunker."

"We normally sell 300 cars a month," Mushin told CBS News correspondent Ben Tracy. "We're on track this month to do about 600."

Thanks to Cash for Clunkers, what could have been a dismal summer for car sales now has a Hollywood ending. Nationwide more than 457,000 clunkers have been traded in for more fuel efficient models and a total of $1.9 billion in rebates.

But now the wildly program that provided up to $4,500 per clunker is being scrapped.

Yet there have been problems. Dealers have to front the money for the rebates - sometimes to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars - and the government has been slow to pay them back.

"Slow I don't think is the word," Mushin says.

The dealership made 183 clunker deals but has been reimbursed for just one. The government owes them $800,000. So Mushin and many other dealers are pulling out of the program early for fear of not getting paid.

In fact, with $1.9 billion in rebates dealers have paid out, the government has reimbursed them just $145 million.

"They're going to get their money, we have the money, Congress provided the money, they're going to get their money," said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

Major auto manufacturers want to keep sales going so they are now loaning dealers money for the rebates. Mushin says he's already done his part on the clunkers.

"Thank you to the government," he says, "if I get paid."

Now he wants his cash.


  • Ben Tracy

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