Who says Washington lobbyists aren’t good for you? Thanks to the auto lobby, consumers may dodge yet another Democratic tax mugging this summer.
Already struggling through their worst sales depression in a generation, automakers will have to swallow yet more regulation with the “just-do-something” auto-safety bills emerging from Congress in the wake of Toyota’s sudden-acceleration recalls. The legislation is largely a repeat of the 2002 “TREAD” legislation in the wake of Ford rollovers which was supposed to prevent another major recall (but didn’t).
House legislation already passed would open up a can of worms by imposing a first-ever tax on cars to fund the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The $9-a-vehicle fee (sure to grow) was stripped from the Senate version after lobbying from auto companies who can see another telephone company-like laundry list of government fees in the making.
“NHTSA’s operations should continue to get its funding through the appropriations process — not tax automobile consumers to fund the agency,” says Annemarie Pender of the Association of International Automobile Manufacturers.
The American taxpayer can thank her. And they will also benefit from the removal of a provision requiring airplane-like, waterproof “black box” recorders in their vehicles (manufacturers already install basic data recorders) that would have added thousands of dollars to the sticker price.
At a time when Congress sees Americans as tax piñatas, these are small but welcome victories.