This editorial appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer on Feb. 5:

Finally, a bailout idea that helps individuals and not just Big Business.

The Senate on Tuesday added a worthy provision to the economic stimulus bill that would allow most Americans to deduct the sales tax and loan interest on the purchase of a new car.

The provision is expected to cost the government $11 billion in lost tax revenue. But it could help spur car sales and give skittish buyers an incentive to hit the showroom.

It would save families about $1,500 on the purchase of a $25,000 car. (The purchase would have to take place between Nov. 8, 2008, and the end of this year.)

The measure is much needed by the struggling auto industry, which has seen car sales evaporate as the recession deepens.

Auto sales plummeted to a 27-year low in January – down 37 percent compared with the same period last year.

Detroit’s Big Three automakers were hit the hardest, with sales at Chrysler off 55 percent.

The Senate’s proposed incentives on car sales would strike the right balance by preserving jobs in the auto industry while providing a financial tax break for average car buyers.

Given the attention devoted to corporate bailouts, Wall Street bonuses, and Washington tax cheats, it’s about time that average consumers got something.

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