image via Florida News Connection
According to several consumer-backed studies, the color of your skin can make buying a car more expensive.
In 2013, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau issued a notice that discriminatory auto lending is illegal, but a GOP-led effort in Congress to overturn those protections is gaining traction. The resolution that already passed the Senate targets "dealer markups," where car dealers charge additional interest on top of what third-party lenders charge.
Alice Vickers, director of the Florida Alliance for Consumer Protection, says she's seen numerous studies, including from the National Fair Housing Alliance, detailing how auto dealers tend to make decisions based on race.
"Sixty-two percent of the time, nonwhite customers who are more qualified than white counterparts receive more costly insurance pricing options," she explains.
Republicans are using the Congressional Review Act to make the change while mostly downplaying the research. The House is expected to vote on the measure this week, then President Trump is expected to sign it into law if it passes.
Consumer advocates such as Vickers have come out in fierce opposition, worried that the reversal would actually lead to an increase in discriminatory practices. Those backing the resolution claim that will not be the case. Vickers says if the rollback is successful, consumers, particularly people of color, will have to be more vigilant.
"You need to be very pointed in asking questions and, you know, really probe your auto lender to make sure that you're getting a good deal," she says.
Republican lawmakers have ramped up use of the Congressional Review Act to roll back a series of federal regulations.