CP photo by Ryan Deto
It’s been a chaotic year and a half with the Trump administration in the
White House and Republicans in control of U.S. Congress. But one area where both Trump and Republicans have been organized and effective is in rolling back financial regulations
created in the wake of the Great Recession.
Since 2017, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has seen several regulations stripped by Congress, including a repeal championed by U.S. Rep. Keith Rothfus
Now, a law co-written by U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey
(R-Lehigh) has eliminated another CFPB guidance; one that was created to ensure racial minorities aren't taken advantage of by the auto-lending industry. On May 21, President Donald Trump signed into law the repeal of that informal rule. With the guidance gone, consumers in Allegheny County and the entire U.S. shouldn’t expect the CFPB to tackle car companies and auto lenders that upcharge based on race.
Research has shown high dealer markups on car loans disproportionately affect nonwhite people. In 2013, the Obama administration sent guidance to the CFPB to stop auto lenders from marking up interest rates for racial minorities. The guidance wasn’t a formal rule, but the CFPB did issue millions of dollars in fines to companies like Honda and Toyota after the guidance was instituted.
In a statement
, Toomey said the regulation was “improper” and that the CFPB never had the authority to regulate automotive dealers.
“Without going through the customary rulemaking and public input processes, the CFPB published a flawed guidance document that threatened auto dealers' ability to negotiate the terms of these loans with their customers,” said Toomey.
Toomey noted the auto-lending industry had been supportive of the repeal. The National Automobile Dealers Association
supported the repeal and said in a statement the guidance put in jeopardy auto-lenders' ability to provide discounts to customers.
However, a group of 64 organizations, including the Pittsburgh-based United Steelworkers union, opposed the repeal, not just because it eliminates a guidance meant to protect racial minorities, but also because the way the guidance was repealed could lead to more regulations easily being slashed.
“This would set a dangerous precedent that would open the door for Congress … to challenge a wide variety of settled agency actions that have been in effect for years or decades, particularly ‘guidance documents’ that are not only crucial to protecting workers, consumers, minorities, the environment, and the economy but also to providing regulatory certainty for businesses and the public,” reads the co-signed letter
Toomey added in his statement that Trump and the Republican-controlled Congress have rolled back 16 Obama-era regulations using the similar methods to how the auto-loan regulation was repealed.