Auto dealer regulation | A failure to compromise

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Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kansas) is grimacing over something the viewer can only guess. Perhaps the auto dealer lobby will contribute less to his campaign chest if he can't get his fellow senators to toe the line?

Republican Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas is visibly shaken by the rift over auto dealer legislation. (Photo: GraniteGrok)

Auto dealer regulation has been on the minds of House Democrats of late, or more specifically a lack thereof. Their belief is that the newly formed Consumer Financial Protection Agency (CFPA) would hamper auto dealers’ ability to recover during these trying financial times by limiting their ability to continue offering dealer-assisted financing.  Led by New York Reps. Bill Owens and Mike McMahon, the Democrats thought they’d achieved an acceptable bipartisan compromise – until now. Automotive News reports that an additional provision was surreptitiously inserted into the bill that would have actually expanded the CFPA’s oversight over car dealers.

NADA is lobbying hard for auto dealer regulation

The National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) – the auto dealer lobby – is flexing its considerable lobbying muscles to bring lawmakers in line with the more permissive House version of the auto dealer regulation bill. Kansas Republican Sen. Sam Brownback was vocal in his opposition to Senate changes that went against what had been perceived to be “sensible bipartisan compromise.” Whatever happens, compromise would go against President Obama’s direct request that no special exceptions be made when it comes to the CFPA’s jurisdiction.

What Obama wants, Chris Dodd delivers

As crafted by Democratic Sen. Chris Dodd of Connecticut, the proposed auto dealer regulation would allow the CFPA to write binding rules that car dealers would have to follow regarding “credit discrimination, credit disclosure, financial privacy and credit-report accuracy,” according to Automotive News. NADA spokesman Bailey Woods disparaged the altered Senate version of the auto dealer regulation bill, claiming that it would it more difficult for “millions of Americans (to find) an affordable way to finance a vehicle.”

Barring unfair and deceptive practices

Ridding the industry of unfair and deceptive practices is the essence of the Dodd bill, which NADA finds completely untenable. Last month, Brownback’s proposal to grant dealer exemption from CFPA regulation had been approved 60-30 as “a non-binding recommendation to Senate negotiators,” writes Automotive News. A vote for either the House or Senate approach occurs today. By early next week, the agreed-upon version will leave committee and go to the House and Senate for final approval. The final step will be to obtain the president’s signature. What will the future hold for America’s auto dealers?

And are auto loans in your future?



Automotive News (subscription may be required)

Sam Brownback views auto dealer regulation as anti-small business:

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