Category: Congress

By on March 20, 2014

CFPB

Uncertainty on auto lending rules resulting from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s methodology behind consent orders issued to lenders found overcharging or otherwise misleading minority borrowers has prompted calls from the National Automobile Dealers Association and the House Financial Services Committee for a detailed explanation from the bureau on said methodology.

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By on March 12, 2014

GM-building-US-Flag

Things are going from bad to worse for General Motors amid the fallout related to the long-delayed recall of 1.6 million vehicles worldwide over a faulty ignition switch installed between 2003 and 2007, as both the U.S. Justice Department and a House panel plan to conduct separate investigations into the matter.

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By on January 19, 2014

1970s-custom-van

A bipartisan group of United States Senators has revealed the “Driver Privacy Act”, which is supposed to put you back in charge of your black-box data in your car. But how effective will that legislation be?
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By on January 3, 2014

backup-camera

After several delays, on Dec. 25th, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration submitted a proposed revised regulation to the White House that could mandate automakers to equip cars and light trucks with backup cameras. According to Automotive News, the regulation will be part of new rear visibility standards for passenger vehicles sold in the U.S and the rationale for the backup cameras is to prevent children from being injured or killed by drivers that don’t see them behind their cars when traveling in reverse. NHTSA estimates that backup cameras would save about 100 lives a year.

No details on the planned standards have been released yet. Read More >

By on October 28, 2013

east-brunswick-nj-jeep-dodge-chrysler-dealership-1024x768

What has the shutdown (and near-meltdown) of the United States government wrought in its wake? Delayed unemployment reports, a belated spotlight upon the broken ACA website, and of course, apprehension among customers looking for their next car to lease or buy. But now that the cans have been kicked hard down the road… again, the showrooms are back in business as if our elected leaders hadn’t gone mad in the first place.

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By on January 2, 2012

An op-ed piece in  The Washington Post praises the wisdom of Congress that refused to renew the 45-cent-per-gallon tax credit for corn-based ethanol and the 54-cent-per-gallon tariff on imported ethanol, thereby exposing alcohol to the rough treatment of the market. Also not extended was the tax credit for installing a charger at home or in a commercial location.

The WaPo thinks killing the $6 billion incentive to turn corn into fuel, and letting EV owners buy their own charger was righteous, but only a half-measure. Congress should have finished the job and should have finished handing out $7,500 tax credits to buyers of EVs. The WaPo thinks it’s a waste, and the technology is going nowhere. Read More >

By on October 20, 2011

The Detroit News reports that 66 US Representatives wrote to the House Appropriations Committee today to urge a measure blocking the EPA from regulating fuel economy in the 2017-2025 period. The letter, signed by 64 Republicans and three Democrats requests

A one-year ‘time out’ is necessary as EPA and (California) are setting national fuel economy standards without explicit authorization by Congress, under laws not designed to regulate fuel economy

According to the DetN, “the proposal would let the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration go forward with setting fuel economy requirements, but under the law it could only set new requirements through 2021.” And unlike past battles over CAFE, opposition this time around does not appear to be coming from the OEMs, but from NADA, the new car dealer lobby group. The only OEM to not sign onto proposed 2017-2025 standards is Volkswagen, which is reportedly in talks with regulators over the proposal.
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By on October 14, 2011

A top congressional leader on Wednesday made clear his opposition to President Obama’s idea of spending $10 billion to create a national infrastructure bank (view details). The bank, part of the White House jobs bill, would offer public subsidy for the financing of “public private partnerships” — which most often would take the form of a toll road. The chairman of the US House Transportation Committee said at a hearing the president’s plan would not advance.

“A national infrastructure bank is dead on arrival in the House of Representatives,” Chairman John Mica (R-Florida) said. “If you want a recipe to put off job creation, adopt that national infrastructure bank proposal.”

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By on October 13, 2011

In addition to being a representative from Pennsylvania, Republican Mike Kelly is also a Chevrolet dealer whose family has sold Chevys since 1953. But in recent hearings on government fuel economy ratings, he laid into his brand’s green halo car, the Chevy Volt with surprising zeal. Or, not-so-surprising, when you realize that he decided to run for congress in the wake of the bailout-era dealer cull.

I’m a Chevrolet dealer… we have a Chevy Volt on the lot, it’s been there now for four weeks. We’ve had one person come in to look at it, just to see what it actually looks like… Here’s a car that costs $45,763. I can stock that car for probably a year and then have to sell it at some ridiculous price. By the way, I just received some additional information from Chevrolet: in addition to the $7,500 [federal] tax credit, Pennsylvania is going to throw another $3,500 to anybody foolish enough to buy one of these cars, somehow giving them $11,000 of taxpayer money to buy this Volt.

When you look at this, it makes absolutely no sense. I can stock a Chevy Cruze, which is about a $17,500 car and turns every 30 to 40 days out of inventory… or I can have a Volt, which never turns and creates nothing for me on the lot except interest costs… So a lot of these things that we’re seeing going on have a tremendous economic impact on people who are being asked to stock them and sell them. There is no market for this car. I do have some friends who have sold them, and they’re mostly to people who have an academic interest in it, or municipalities who are asking to buy these cars.

With dealers like that, who needs competitors? Seriously, Kelly even says he fired the guy who ordered a Volt for his dealership… which he then counts against the Volt’s job creation record. Hit the jump for the rest of his quote.
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By on October 13, 2011

The Congressional Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs, Stimulus Oversight and Government Spending held hearings this week on proposed CAFE standards, as part of Chairman Darryl Issa’s investigation of the regulations. The first panel’s testimony can be seen in its entirety in the video above (all prepared testimony can be found in PDF format here), and it’s worth watching. Though the predictable D.C. partisanship certainly shows up, Anwyl’s testimony was the highlight the hearing, being a tough but fair analysis of the standards. Hit the jump for a brief roundup.
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By on October 4, 2011

 

Remember when cars, especially Toyotas, suddenly had a mind of their own, started accelerating, leaving their drivers helpless and hapless? It was in the beginning of 2010. The media cited scores of allegedly killed people. Source: The NHTSA complaint database. When complaints skyrocketed, the media wrote about a dramatic increase of complaints. Now, have a look at the graph above. Read More >

By on September 30, 2011

In a report released earlier this week [PDF], the EPA Inspector General criticized the Technical Support Document for the portion of greenhouse gas regulation dealing with “Endangerment,” or the possible effects of greenhouse gasses. Inspector General Arthur A. Elkins Jr. summed up his office’s findings [PDF], writing

The OIG evaluated EPA’s compliance with established policy and procedures in the development of the endangerment finding, including processes for ensuring information quality. We concluded that the technical support document that accompanied EPA’s endangerment finding is a highly influential scientific assessment and thus required a more rigorous EPA peer review than occurred. EPA did not certify whether it complied with OMB’s or its own peer review policies in either the proposed or final endangerment findings as required. While it may be debatable what impact, if any, this had on EPA’s finding, it is clear that EPA did not follow all required steps for a highly influential scientific assessment. We also noted that documentation of events and analyses could be improved.

Oy vey. Greenhouse gas science controversy. So, what’s the problem really about?

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By on September 30, 2011

The Detroit News reports that the only Republican in Washington with subpoena power, Rep Darrel Issa has written a letter asking Ford CEO Alan Mulally for “a full and complete explanation of Ford’s decision” to stop running an advertisement that was critical of the TARP-funded auto bailout.

In a letter, Issa asks Ford if any White House, Treasury or other federal employee discussed the ad with any Ford employee “at any time via any manner of communication” and asks the automaker to turn over any documents connected to any discussion by Oct. 12.

Spokeswoman Meghan Keck said Ford will cooperate, but reiterated that the White House didn’t pressure the Dearborn automaker.

Ford took the ad off of Youtube after “individuals inside the White House questioned whether the copy was publicly denigrating the controversial bailout policy CEO Alan Mulally repeatedly supported in the dark days of late 2008,” according to Daniel Howes of the Detroit News. The same day Ford restored the video, and denied that White House pressure led to the takedown. Color us curious as to how Mulally is going to explain this little episode…

UPDATE: The Washington Post’s Plum Line reports

I just got off the phone with Detroit News managing editor Don Nauss. “We stand by our column,” he told me. “It was based on multiple sources. It’s written by a busines columnist who can draw conclusions based on the reporting that they do.”

The story contains no attribution for the central charge of White House calls to Ford. Asked about this, Nauss declined to comment.

Asked to clarify if the column was alleging any White House pressure on Ford (the story hints at it up top but quotes someone later saying there was no pressure), Nauss declined to say. “The story speaks for itself,” he said.

When contacted about his column, Howes referred me to Nauss’s comments above.

 

 

By on September 25, 2011

Editor’s note: When I wrote about OnStar’s latest round of privacy concerns, I didn’t realize that the chairman of the Senate Judiciary subcommittee on privacy, technology and the law had voiced his own concerns in a letter published just the day before. Here is the letter, as published at Senator Franken’s website. OnStar has already said it will respond to specifically to the concerns of Senators Franken and Coons.

Ms. Linda Marshall, President
OnStar Corporation
400 Renaissance Center
Detroit, MI 48265

Dear Ms. Marshall:

We are writing to express our serious concern with OnStar’s announcement earlier this week that it would continue to track the GPS locations of its customers’ vehicles even if those customers have affirmatively ended their contractual plans with OnStar.  In this email announcement, OnStar informs its current and former subscribers that it reserves the right to track their locations “for any purpose, at any time.”  It appears that the only way to stop this tracking is to actually call OnStar and request that the data connection between OnStar and the vehicle be terminated; this service is not available online.  OnStar further reserves the right to share or sell location data with “credit card processors,” “data management companies,” OnStar’s “affiliates,” or “any third party” provided that OnStar is satisfied that the data cannot be traced back to individual customers.  See OnStar, Privacy Statement: Effective as of December 2011.  In a nutshell, OnStar is telling its current and former customers that it can track their location anywhere, anytime—even if they cancel their subscriptions—and then give or sell that information to anyone as long as OnStar deems it safe to do so.

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By on August 1, 2011

With the high political drama surrounding America’s debt ceiling crisis, last Friday’s CAFE announcement received much less attention from the media than it might have. But, flying even further beneath the radar is an attempt by Republicans to undo the fuel economy agreement that was the result of long negotiations. According to the NYT, some 39 “anti environmental” riders were attached to an Interior Department and EPA appropriations bill, including one which reads

Sec. 453. None of the funds made available under this Act shall be used— (1) to prepare, propose, promulgate, finalize, implement, or enforce any regulation pursuant to section 202 of the Clean Air Act (42 U.S.C. 7521) regarding the regulation of any greenhouse gas emissions from new motor vehicles or new motor vehicle engines that are manufactured after model year 2016 to address climate change.

Though one rider, which would have prevented any new listings on the Endangered Species Act lists of threatened and endangered species, was defeated, the NYT reports that the fuel economy rider is still pending. Politico adds that the bill is scheduled to go to the House floor today, but that President Obama is already threatening to veto the bill. Having worked with California, environmental groups and the auto industry to hammer out a compromise, it’s unlikely that the White House will approve any final bill that includes a measure to gut the new 2016-2025 standard… but the fact that Republicans are trying to eliminate the EPA’s ability to regulate fuel economy indicates that someone, somewhere wouldn’t mind seeing the newly-approved CAFE standard gutted.

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