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Congressman Tom McClintock

Representing the 4th District of California

Learning from Experience (NOT) - Cash for Caulkers Program

May 6, 2010

WASHINGTON, DC – Representative Tom McClintock (R – Granite Bay) delivered the following remarks on the House floor today in opposition to the costly “Cash for Caulkers” weatherization program:

Learning from Experience (NOT)
House Chamber, Washington, D.C.
May 6, 2010

M. Speaker:    

Since “Cash for Caulkers” is based on the “Cash for Clunkers” program maybe somebody ought to ask, “How did that one work out?”

            In fact, economists at did exactly that.  And they discovered that of the 690,000 cars sold under “Cash for Clunkers,” 565,000 sales would have happened anyway.  That means that the taxpayers ended up paying $24,000 for every genuine sale it actually “stimulated.”

            It gets worse.  All that the program accomplished was to entice people to move up their purchase decisions by a few months – which then caused below-normal sales in the months that followed.  In other words, Congress spent $4 billion creating a car bubble.

            With that fresh economic wreckage just months behind us, we are about to create a $6.6 billion home improvement bubble.  We can now replace our “Honk-if-you’re-making-my-car-payments” bumper stickers with “Honk-if-you’re-paying-for-my-home-remodeling.”

            What will this actually accomplish? 

            First, a lot of fraud.  We already know that the Energy Star Program approved 15 out of 23 fake products that were submitted to them by the GAO, including a gasoline powered alarm clock.  One can only imagine what home improvement scams taxpayers will fund from this one.

            Second, it will pay for a lot of remodeling that would have been done anyway.  That was the expensive lesson of “Cash for Clunkers.”

            And third, it will pay for remodeling that makes no economic sense except for the rebate.  After all, when remodeling actually saves money, people do it on their own. And if it doesn’t save money – why should taxpayers be forced to pay for it? 

            Benjamin Franklin observed that “experience keeps a dear school, but fools will learn in no other.”  This measure offers a sobering corollary: that there are some people who cannot even learn from experience.  We call those people “Congressmen.”