While the U.S. Senate tousles over the details of the contentious financial-regulation bill (S 3217), the National Automobile Dealer Association is lobbying to have car dealers exempt from some of the proposed reforms.
Among other things, the bill would create a new Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection, and curb abusive practices such as ‘bait and switch” where one interest rate or down payment is advertised, but much higher ones substituted.
There are also rules governing other questionable practices, such as the failure to pay off liens on trade-in vehicles, or conditional loan agreements. These are all reasonable propositions in the view of consumer advocates.
Nonetheless, NADA is unhappy that what started as Wall Street reform legislation would “unfairly increase federal regulation over dealerships and potentially eliminate dealer-assisted financing.”
Maybe so, but a Republican sponsored amendment to exempt car dealers from the proposed reforms was trounced last week, and it looks like car dealers will be included in the final version of the bill when it comes up for vote next week. Dealers who provide their own funds for loans will be treated just like the banks, credit unions and other auto lenders under the bill.
This has not stopped NADA from continuing to oppose the legislation since car dealers arrange for almost all of auto financing.
“Burdensome regulations would drastically increase the cost of a car loan and make it harder for consumers to qualify for credit,” NADA claims. “This hurts a family’s ability to find affordable transportation to meet their needs, particularly low-income families who do not have relationships with financing organizations.”
NADA has also issued a pole that claims support for the financial reform bill drops from 70% percent to 41% “when consumers learn that current legislation could make it more challenging and expensive to get auto credit,”
Well, as in all poling, how you ask the question determines the response.
Consider the poll:
Initial: “There is currently a bill before the U.S. Senate that focuses on changing the nation’s financial laws. Among other things, this bill would create a new Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection.”
Statement 1: “This financial reform legislation would allow the government to regulate auto dealers who simply provide customers with options from local lenders, making it more challenging and expensive to get financing through a car dealership.”
Statement 2: “This bureau could also dictate to auto dealers how they pay their employees.”
Given this language, are you surprised that NADA claims that support for the bill drops from 70% to 41% or that 65% of respondents would support an amendment to ensure that auto dealers can continue to provide dealer-assisted financing?
What would happen if we asked the respondents whether they are in favor of the government ignoring shady financial practices from whatever source that will increase your costs and run up the national debt?
“What this poll shows is that consumers don’t want Congress to limit their auto finance options,” said NADA Chairman Ed Tonkin, a dealer from Portland, Ore. “And it should come as no surprise. The public wants Congress to focus on Wall Street bankers, not Main Street auto dealers.
We will see.