AP: Obama Administration Won’t Release Full Data on ‘Cash for Clunkers’

A $2 billion renewal of "cash for clunkers" is now almost assured, with GOP senators easing up on their threat of a filibuster and one key Democrat remarking that "the statistics [for the program] are much better than everyone thought."

But if the "clunkers" data is so successful, why won't the U.S. DOT release it in full? From the AP:

The Obama administration is refusing to release government records on its "cash-for-clunkers" rebate program that would substantiate — or undercut — White House claims of the program's success, even as the president presses the Senate for a quick vote for $2 billion to boost car sales.

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.

Some initial numbers on "cash for clunkers" have been circulating widely in Washington as the White House prods senators to approve the $2 billion infusion before leaving town this weekend for a month-long recess.

Yet only about half of the 250,000 auto sales attributed to the program have been processed so far, according to lawmakers, casting doubt on the definitiveness of the data.

The non-profit watchdog group Public Citizen filed a Freedom of Information Act request today seeking more detailed numbers on "clunkers" sales. As Streetsblog Capitol Hill reported yesterday, the DOT is also declining to release details on the deal it signed with Citigroup, beneficiary of a $45 billion government bailout, to help process "clunker" deals.

What's no secret, however, is LaHood's ideal choice of a new car. "I have my eye on an Explorer, four-wheel drive," he told MSNBC yesterday. The 2010 Explorer 4WD gets a combined 16 miles per gallon -- barely qualifying it for the "clunkers" program.