Some people in Washington still don't get it. Car dealers must be exempt from the new level of needless bureaucratic oversight that could be mandated by the sweeping financial overhaul bill. Our leaders must understand that dealers do not make loans; they only arrange them for their customers.
Regrettably, the version of the bill passed by the Senate did not exempt car dealers, though the House bill did. Leaders of the House and Senate now must confer to hammer out all of the differences in the two versions before sending the legislation to the president.
At the urging of Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., the Senate last week voted 60-30 to direct its conferees to support provisions in the House bill that exempt dealers.
Even that took an effort because of opposition from President Barack Obama, the Pentagon and groups representing military families, consumers, banks and civil rights activists.
But the advisory vote may not be enough.
Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., the Banking Committee chairman who introduced the Senate bill with the backing of the Obama administration, rejected the advisory vote in a speech on the floor of the Senate.
Dodd's opposition is problematic since he will be one of the Senate leaders to confer with the House leaders.
It is ironic that Dodd has become such a vocal opponent of exempting dealers from the bill. Car dealers had nothing to do with the 2008 financial meltdown that prompted this legislation. But the failure of Dodd and his committee to provide proper oversight of the subprime mortgage mess at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac is blamed by some for contributing to that meltdown.
The knee-jerk opposition of Dodd and others to the exemption appears to be little more than a sop to those in their political base who are traditional adversaries of dealers. Their position is uninformed, illogical and more likely to hurt consumers by making some types of retail loans less accessible.
The auto industry, including dealers, was staggered by the financial meltdown and the resulting constriction of credit. Now, as the industry struggles to get back on its feet, the last thing anyone needs is an ill-conceived stumbling block.
Congress ought to fix the problems on Wall Street and not obstruct the dealerships on Main Street.