Black folks can expect to see an avalanche of discriminatory auto loans after Congress completes its repeal of an Obama-era policy.
It’s anticipated that the House will soon pass legislation that would remove restraints on discriminatory auto loans. The Senate passed the measure on Wednesday, and the White House has already signaled its approval.
The Senate’s roll back of President Barack Obama’s policy has “emboldened banks and finance companies to engage in racial discrimination by charging millions of people of color more for a car loan than is justified,” Rion Dennis of Americans for Financial Reform told the New York Times.
Lenders typically offer an interest rate based on factors such as credit history and the amount of the borrower’s down payment. But auto dealers are allowed to increase that interest rate and split the profit with the lender.
A 2011 report from the Center for Responsible Lending, a consumer watchdog group, revealed that the industry was charging Blacks and Hispanics higher interest rates compared to Whites with similar credit ratings and down payments.
Consequently, the federal government’s Consumer Financial Protection Bureau issued guidance in 2013 warning the industry to stop the predatory lending. In one case, Ally Bank settled a federal complaint for $98 million in 2013 over alleged predatory lending to minority borrowers.
Passage of the repeal is expected to give lenders a free hand to resume discriminatory practices.
The legislation passed 51 to 47 in the Senate, largely along party lines. Only one Democrat, West Virginia’s Sen. Joe Manchin, voted with the Republicans. The GOP has long opposed what it views as government over-regulation of the financial industry–even if deregulation leads to discrimination.
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