NADA Washington Conference features Rep. Don Beyer, DOTês Elaine Chao, and others
More than 400 dealers from around the country, including WANADA leadership, assembled in DC last week for the NADA Washington Conference, hearing a variety of speakers before going to Capitol Hill to call on Congress. WANADA was well represented by Chairman Charlie Stringfellow; NADA Director Geoff Pohanka; his father Jack Pohanka, former chairman of both WANADA and NADA; MADA Director for Maryland Daniel Jobe, also on WANADAês Board; and Joe Koch, vice president of WANADA operations.
Among the speakers were Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.), WANADAês esteemed dealer member and congressman representing Virginiaês 8th District; Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao; and Rep. Sean Duffy (R-WI).
NADA Chairman Mark Scarpelli told attendees weêre here to educate and explain, referencing the visits to Congress dealers would be making in conjunction with the conference. Scarpelli then presented the elements of NADAês Washington agenda as follows:
1. The ongoing challenge for dealers to promote fair consumer credit compliance while keeping credit rates competitive and affordable;
2. the necessity that rules on self-driving vehicles be subject to state franchise laws;
3. the necessity that parts be available in vehicle recalls; and
4. the necessity of local dealerships having the capacity and the expertise to implement recall repairs for consumers.
The auto business is more complicated than ever, Scarpelli said. He highlighted cybersecurity, direct-to-consumer sales and the advent of automated driving as particular concerns. In their efforts on Capitol Hill that afternoon, Scarpelli urged dealers to explain to their members of Congress the invaluable service dealers provide auto consumers in keeping vehicle loans available and affordable.
Rep. Beyer has longtime ties to WANADA and the Washington area dealer community. He spent four decades building his familyês dealer organization before serving in WANADAês leadership and becoming lieutenant governor of Virginia, then later ambassador to Switzerland. He spoke to dealers at the conferenceês opening breakfast as a fellow dealers and member of Congress, outlining the various issues facing the United States, at home and abroad.
A big issue will be tax reform, said Beyer, who emphasized the importance of getting it right. Pass-throughs must be treated fairly, he said, and interest should be treated as a deductible expense a comment that brought a round of applause from dealers. Beyer also encouraged dealers to visit their members of Congress that afternoon, telling the industryês story.
I can tell you first hand not to underestimate the power and influence that you can exert by talking face to face with your congressional representative, he said.
Doug Knust, chairman of NADAês Legislative Affairs Committee, urged dealers to focus on three hot-button tax issues during their meetings on the Hill: treating pass-throughs fairly in tax reform; retaining the LIFO accounting method, and repealing the estate tax.
U.S. Transportation Sec. Chao focused on the guidance for autonomous vehicles that the DOT released the previous week. This document replaces guidance issued last year under former President Obama. (For more detail, see the next article in this BulletinÄ)
Consumer acceptance of fully autonomous vehicles lags behind what many of the technologyês proponents would suggest, Chao said.
Consumers will determine when and how autonomous vehicles will arrive, she said.
At the general session of the conference, NADA President Peter Welch said that NADA has already raised about $1.1 million in relief for dealership employees affected by hurricanes Harvey and Irma. He emphasized that this money goes directly to dealership employees, not the dealers themselves. The program has already received 2,500 applications, and officials are expecting many more. Welch anticipates that they will need to raise another $3 million or $4 million to cover all the claims, and he encouraged dealers to contribute generously to the NADA Foundation Emergency Relief Fund. (Dealers can donate online here.)
Congressman Duffy focused his remarks on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). As a ranking Republican in the House, Duffy has been an outspoken critic of the CFPB and particularly of its director, Richard Cordray. Duffy singled out what he termed the asinine methodology the CFPB used to identify discrimination (matching last names with ZIP codes) and the agencyês overt noncompliance in refusing to honor requests for documentation. One request was made during the investigation by the congressional committee of which Duffy is a member.
Rounding out the morning of the conference was popular Fox News talk show host Tucker Carlson, who delighted dealers with an anecdote about his most recent car purchase. After his daughter was in a fender-bender his wife was going to get a new used car, and he encouraged her to go to CarMax. No, she replied. I only go see CC Sloan at Rosenthal Jaguar. I just pay whatever he says because I know he gives me the best deal he can. I trust him, and Iêm not going anywhere else.
Though Carlson didnêt necessarily think that was a good idea, his wife bought the car from Sloan a few days later. When Carlson told the story to Bret Baier (Fox chief political anchor and WANADAês upcoming Annual Meeting keynoter) without names or details, Baier exclaimed, She doesnêt go see CC Sloan, does she? My wife wonêt go anywhere else either!
Carlson entertained the crowd with his discussion of President Trump. For years the American public has been clamoring for a leader who isnêt two-faced, Carlson said. Now we have one and donêt really like it. He described Trump as emotionally incontinent.
Labeling Trump supporters as slope-browed, mouth-breathing bigots is the biggest sin of the media today, Carlson said. Trump supporters are not generally bigots, theyêre just tired of people in Washington not relating to them very well, he concluded.
Washingtonians are hopelessly disconnected from the concerns of real Americans, Carlson said. We have a vigorous market economy because of the middle class. Until Washington serves this middle class rather than itself, the disconnect will continue.Download Bulletin PDF