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Thursday, December 17, 2009

Shame on Florida and Federal Politicians and Regulators

On December 11th [my birthday] the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill which provides a sweeping overhaul for oversight of financial institutions by a new Consumer Financial Protection Agency. This was in response to an effort by our federal government to improve regulation of our lending institutions and avoid another financial meltdown which came close to bringing us into a 2nd depression.

Before the bill could be passed, an amendment to subject car dealer-assisted financing to some Consumer Financial Protection Agency oversight was withdrawn. This was the result of strong lobbying efforts by the National Automobile Dealers Association. Consumer advocates argued that dealers are the biggest target of consumer complaints to state agencies and have been the subject of a number of lawsuits over financing for consumers.

“The House exempting auto dealers from fiscal oversight is just not right”, said a Consumer Federation of America spokesman Jack Gillis. “Each year millions of Americans finance their second biggest purchase through car dealers, and these consumers deserve the same protection as those working directly with financial institutions.”

We see the same dereliction of duty by Florida politicians, regulators and the Florida counterpart to the NADA, the FADA Florida Automobile Dealers Association. The Florida legislature is lobbied heavily by the FADA not to pass good laws to protect Florida car buyers and the Attorney General will not enforce the ones we already have.

I know exactly what car dealers and political conservatives [I’m both] will say when they learn about this…”We don’t need more government regulations and laws”. However, I have to reluctantly differ on this. It’s easy enough to say that we don’t need more laws and regulations but what we do need is enforcement of the laws and regulations we already have. That’s true, but what happens when you do not enforce the current laws and regulations? We do not enforce them and that’s what got us into this recession. When you see more laws added to the books, it’s because the current ones are being ignored. It may be faulty logic, but making new laws is at least doing something.

If Bill McCollum reads this or politicians like Dave Aronberg who are running for Bill’s current position of Florida Attorney General, I’m talking to you. I’ll describe advertisements by just one car dealer in the PB Post auto classified section. You can see for yourself if you can locate a copy of last Saturday’s paper. If you can’t don’t worry because the same ads run almost every day. You can see similar ads in newspapers [and TV and radio] all over Florida. I gave you an easy one to find because this dealer spends more on advertising in the PB Post than any other. You can’t miss his ads…or maybe you can because you have allowed him to run rampant for years.

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