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New, Better Stimulus Plan Needed: AutoNation CEO

Additional economic stimulus such as a payroll tax cut would boost hiring, Mike Jackson, the CEO of AutoNation, told CNBC on Thursday.

“We’re at the bottom,” said Jackson. “People have just realized that we’ve passed the abyss and are more confident looking forward and you need a little stimulus to accelerate the movement forward.”

He also said that the government failed to design an effective stimulus program.

“It was a wasted chance,” he said. “It was a flawed stimulus package of $750 billion. It did not hit the target of getting this economy moving and creating jobs. And somebody has to take accountability.”

While the stimulus package failed, said Jackson, the “cash for clunkers” program proved successful.

“In order to get the money, you had to spend money,” he said. “We had people come in with very good down payments, very good jobs, very good credit and bought a vehicle that they were not planning to buy.”

AutoNation , the auto dealership chain, sold 700,000 units incrementally, he said.

“All of a sudden an entire industry that’s at its deathbed can get up and walk around for $3 billion,” he said. “Now if you took the $750 billion and design it the same way, you would have had this economy moving.”

Jackson also blasted the Senate’s health care bill, which would restrict people from purchasing insurance across state lines. Rather than reduce costs, such a move would only add costs by squandering competition, said Jackson.

“They’re really talking from both sides of their mouth,” he said. “If we really want to introduce competition, do away with the federal anti-trust exemption for the insurance industry and let them compete across state lines. All hell would break loose as far as the dropping of the costs of insurance.”