Clunk in the Dark:

The Associated Press reports:

The Obama administration is refusing to quickly 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. . . .

The Associated Press has sought release of the data since last week. Rae Tyson, spokesman for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, said the agency will provide the data requested as soon as possible.

DOT officials already have received electronic details from car dealers of each trade-in transaction. The agency receives regular analyses of the sales data, producing helpful talking points for [Transportation Secretary] 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.

LaHood, for example, promotes the fact that the Ford Focus so far is at the top of the list of new cars purchased under the program. But the limited information released so far shows most buyers are not picking Ford, Chrysler or General Motors vehicles, and six of the top 10 vehicles purchased are Honda, Toyota and Hyundai.

Meanwhile, James Hamilton compares "cash-for-clunkers" to the Agricultural Adjustment Act.

UPDATE: Andrew Sullivan also likens "cash-for-clunkers" to FDR-style policies, and thinks this is a reason the program should appeal to limited-government types. Matt Welch responds. My take: There are many reasons to doubt the GOP's commitment to a limited-government agenda, but opposition to cash-for-clunkers ain't one of them.