Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said Sunday the government would release electronic records about the program, and President Barack Obama has pledged greater transparency for his administration. But the Transportation Department, which has collected details about 157,000 rebate requests, won't release sales data that dealers provided showing how much U.S. car manufacturers are benefiting from the $1 billion initially pumped into the program.
The Associated Press has sought release of the data since last week. But the public and Senate Republicans demanding more information will have to wait for details because federal officials running the program don't have time to turn over data delivered by car dealers, said Rae Tyson,National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. spokesman for the
LaHood said in an interview Sunday he would make the electronic records available. "I can't think of any reason why we wouldn't do it," he said.
DOT officials already have received electronic details from car dealers of each trade-in transaction. The agency regularly analyzes the data internally, producing helpful talking points for LaHood, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs and other officials to use when urging more funding.
LaHood, the program's chief salesman, has pitched the rebates as good for America, good for car buyers, good for the environment, good for the economy. But it's difficult to determine whether the administration is overselling the claim without seeing what's being sold, what's being traded in and where the cars are being sold.