The Trump administration: What dealers can expect, Part 2

The Trump administration: What dealers can expect, Part 2

In a recent article in the New York Times, reporter Bill Vlasic wrote, –Perhaps no industry could be affected in more ways by the new administration than the auto business.” With President-elect Trumpês very flexible approach to policy positions, there are many unknowns. Hereês what we know so far:

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau: A court ruled even before the election that the structure of the agency must change. The director now reports to the president and can be replaced at any time. Trump signaled during the campaign and with his initial Cabinet choices that he plans to cut back substantially on regulations that could impede business. NADA, automakers and lenders have long complained about the CFPBês regulatory overreach of business. Under President Trump, the CFPB could well soften its regulatory approach.

Environmental regulations and emissions standards: Trumpês choice of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to head the Environmental Protection Agency shows we can expect a complete change in the direction of the nationês top environmental body. Pruitt, a self-professed climate change skeptic, is party to a lawsuit against the Clean Power Plan that would regulate carbon emissions from coal-powered plants. His legislative history shows he is much more interested in working with fossil fuel companies and business than in issuing heavy environmental regulations.

One of the primary environmental issues for dealers is the tougher fuel economy standards that the EPA recently moved to issue unchanged in final form after a draft midterm review in July. NADA and the major automaker groups protested strongly, pointing out that the market has changed since the standards were written in 2012. Consumers have snapped up light trucks and utilities as gas prices have fallen to record lows.

The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers has said it plans to work with the Trump administration to roll back the tougher emissions standards. But regulations already in place cannot simply be repealed with the presidentês signature. Changing regulations is a long and involved process purposely so, under our system of divided government and Trump will have to choose his battles.

Labor regulations and overtime rule: Trumpês choice for Labor Secretary, Andrew Puzder, comes from the business side as chief executive of fast food chains including Hardeeês. He has spoken out against the rule that would have expanded the number of employees eligible for overtime. Because that rule was indefinitely halted by a federal judge in Texas (as reported in the WANADA Bulletin click here), it could be easier to overturn than the fuel economy standards. Puzder has also criticized mandated sick leave of the type being discussed in Maryland and DC (see article below).

Department of Transportation: Transportation Secretary nominee Elaine Chao is the only Cabinet choice so far who has previously held a Cabinet position, as Labor Secretary. Although she does not have extensive transportation experience, Chao is familiar with the ways of Washington even more so since she is married to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and has the respect of many on Capitol Hill. That will be to her advantage. NADA and the Auto Alliance have praised Chaoês selection. Her record as Labor Secretary shows sheês not a fan of regulations and will likely work to push more regulatory authority to the states, according to a report by Associated Press.

Among the industry issues in front of the DOT now, first is an infrastructure bill that looks like the best hope for gathering bipartisan consensus. Another ongoing issue is autonomous vehicles. DOT issued autonomous vehicle guidelines this summer, but the questions are far from settled.

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