This is the VOA Special English Economics Report.
week in Washington, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced plans for a
"distracted driving summit" in September.
Transportation and law enforcement
officials, safety activists and others will discuss how to deal with drivers
who do other things as they drive. Talking on the phone has long been an issue.
But text-messaging while driving has gained more attention recently following a
number of deadly crashes.
Right now, though, distracted driving is not the only
thing Secretary LaHood has to think about.
For the first time
in many months, large numbers of Americans have been buying new cars. And here
is at least part of the reason why: Since late July the government has been
paying for people to trade in older vehicles for newer ones with greater fuel
economy. The program is named the Car Allowance Rebate System, but known as "cash
It was included as part
of an unrelated defense bill passed in June. Congress provided one billion
dollars for car dealers to pay for trade-ins. Qualified buyers can receive up
to four thousand five hundred dollars toward a new vehicle. So far, most of the
trade-ins have been trucks and the majority of new purchases have been cars.
are required to make the trade-ins unusable by destroying the engine, then
recycle the old vehicles into scrap metal.
The billion dollars was supposed to last
until November. But the program has been so popular, officials say most of the
money is already gone. President Obama asked Congress for an additional two
billion dollars which could last through Labor Day, September seventh.
week the House of Representatives agreed. And on Wednesday, Senate Majority
Leader Harry Reid announced a deal between Democrats and Republicans to clear
the way for final approval.
But "cash for clunkers" has
its critics. Liberals say the fuel-efficiency requirements for the replacement
vehicles are not strong enough for the environment. Conservatives object to the
cost, and the idea of what they say is just another bailout for the car
The Transportation Department reported Wednesday that
almost half of all sales were from American manufacturers. However, foreign
automakers had six of the ten top selling vehicles in the program. But even so,
most of their vehicles were built in the United States.
And that's the VOA
Special English Economics Report, written by Mario Ritter. Transcripts and
podcasts are at voaspecialenglish.com. I'm Steve Ember.