In a statement released Thursday, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced the government would stop accepting Cash for Clunkers rebate applications on Monday, August 24, at 8 p.m. EDT.

At the time of the announcement, the Car Allowance Rebate System had recorded more than 457,000 dealer transactions worth $1.9 billion in rebates. Secretary LaHood said the Monday night end date will allow car dealers and buyers plenty of time to finalize purchases and submit applications for rebate from the remainder of the $3 billion provided by Congress.

"This program has been a lifeline to the automobile industry, jump starting a major sector of the economy and putting people back to work," Secretary LaHood said. "At the same time, we've been able to take old, polluting cars off the road and help consumers purchase fuel efficient vehicles."

But will the ultimate economic effects reflect a positive return on investment?

"The federal government's attempt to stimulate the nation's economy by instituting the CARS 2009 program remains the subject of debate even as it concludes, but one thing is certain -- it motivated hundreds of thousands of consumers to buy new vehicles," said Jack R. Nerad, Executive Editorial Director and Executive Market Analyst, Kelley Blue Book and "Whether it boosts the overall economy for any length of time remains to be seen, but it does demonstrate that a direct stimulus to consumers can quickly generate substantial economic activity."

Another thing that's certain: the program proved much more popular than most expected. After the initial $1 billion was exhausted in the program's first official week, Congress approved a $2 billion fill-up. By the time all is said and done, the program will have paid out an average of $100 million per day.

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