The cash for clunkers program is one of those beauty-in-the-eyes-of-the-beholder things. To advocates, the $4,500 subsidy for trading in your gas guzzler stimulates auto spending and therefore jobs and the economy. To detractors, it's little more than another bailout program designed to pimp car buyers, auto dealers and Detroit (see Ron Paul video above).
So you would think Tennessee Senator Bob Corker would fall decidedly in the latter camp. The former moderate has become the senator from Wall Street, railing about everything from autoworker wages to opposing consumer protection for mortgages and credit cards. Which is to say he's not exactly a champion of the little guy. He's also been a prominent critic of automakers, and has railed in lockstep with the GOP about government waste.
So why does Corker favor tripling the cost of the clunker program? There's something in it for Bob.
Car dealers may not be huge hitters in cities like Nashville and Memphis, but they're captains of industry in the small towns where Corker gets much of his support. And the clunkers program is wildly popular among dealers, who've taken a beating in the recession. Corker can't afford to piss them off, lest he create influential enemies in his rural base. That would be bad for Bob.
Moral of the story, boys and girls? Waste is only waste when someone you don't know is getting the benefit.