Do American car buyers need busybody Senators Dianne Feinstein and Susan Collins to bipartisanly mess with the outrageously successful Cash for Clunkers program so that they will buy more earth-friendly vehicles than the original legislation required? No, they do not.

And the Transportation Department reported that the average gas mileage of the vehicles being purchased was significantly higher than required to qualify for a rebate of $3,500 to $4,500. Of 120,000 rebate applications processed so far, the department said the average gas mileage of vehicles being bought was 28.3 miles per gallon for cars, 21.9 miles per gallon for S.U.V’s, and 16.3 miles per gallon for trucks.

“The statistics are much better than anybody dreamed they would be,” said Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California. The actual mileage gain so far, she said, was due not to the details of the law but to “the good judgment of the American people.”

Ms. Feinstein, along with Senator Susan M. Collins, Republican of Maine, was the author of an early version of a “cash for clunkers” bill that would have required bigger improvements in mileage. Their decision to express support for extending the current version of the program, expressed at a late-afternoon news conference, was an important signal to other senators concerned about whether the program was doing enough for the environment.

What’s that expression, something about it being broke so don’t fix it? Oh, yeah, Chuck Schumer reminds us:

Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, an early backer of the Feinstein-Collins approach, also voiced support for an extension. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” he said. “It’s working in every way. It’s working as stimulus, it’s working to help families, it’s working to improve mileage.”

Go shopping if you need a new car. Go today. And buy with confidence, since it seems like the Senate has decided to stay out of your way.

Teddy Partridge

Teddy Partridge