Green Bay couple’s vehicle purchase makes a statement
Tax incentive, Obama’s agenda offer motivation
March 31, 2009
By Larry Bivins
WASHINGTON — Joan and Michael Thron acknowledge they didn’t need a new car, but they bought one anyway to show support for President Barack Obama’s economic recovery plan.
The Throns, former University of Wisconsin-Green Bay professors, bought a Toyota Prius in early March, a hybrid that gets 45 mpg. They plan to take advantage of a tax deduction next year that is available through the stimulus plan.
"We didn’t really need a new car," said Michael Thron, 72, who said the Prius they traded in was two years old. "We felt this was a very good thing to do, to make a statement."
In a letter to their congressman, Rep. Steve Kagen, D-Appleton, the Throns pointed out that not only will they be able to claim the sales taxes when they file their returns next year, but they saved 5.5 percent off the purchase price by buying when they did.
In a telephone interview, Michael Thron said he and his wife voted for Obama in November and are loyal followers of the president’s agenda.
"So far, we’re pleased with the direction in which things are going," he said. On the stimulus package, he added, "We should go forward with it — with our fingers crossed."
Thron said that despite the crisis in the domestic auto industry, he felt no regrets about buying a Toyota and that he and his wife were still contributing to the economic recovery.
"I feel a little guilty about that," he said, "but I recognize that the Prius is made in the U.S. and we’re helping American workers."
Kagen said that while the Throns’ show of support for the stimulus is admirable, a lot more needs to happen to turn around sagging car sales, particularly among American automakers. Kagen said loan approvals that used to take just 15 minutes now take several hours, giving consumers time to have second thoughts.
"What they really need is a loosening of the credit in secondary markets," Kagen said.
That is the message that the National Automobile Dealers Association, representing 19,000 dealerships, conveyed in a March 2 letter to Obama. The group said access to retail credit and capital loans is paramount to the survival of the industry.