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Now browsing: Hometown News > Business Columns > Earl Stewart

Earl Stewart
This Week | Archive

Laughable politics behind lowering car registration fee
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Posted: 2014 Mar 21 - 08:53

Earl Stewart is the owner and general manager of Earl Stewart Toyota in North Palm Beach. The dealership is located at 1215 N. Federal Highway in Lake Park. Contact him at www.earlstewarttoyota.com, call (561) 358-1474, fax (561) 658-0746 or email earl@estoyota.com.

An article appeared in a local publication last Sunday that said Governor Rick Scott is pushing a bill to lower the cost of registering your car from $20-$25. The democrats are complaining that this is just a political maneuver to embarrass Charlie Christ who was governor when the increase in vehicle registration fees happened.

I'm not choosing sides because I'm not particularly thrilled with either Charlie Crist or Rick Scott. My opinion is that Charlie and Rick (and most politicians) will say almost anything to get elected.

You probably remember Robert Gibbs, Barack Obama's first press secretary. He's now a private consultant. Last Sunday on "Meet the Press," he told David Gregory that nobody "employed in Washington D.C. can afford to be honest." Gibbs is now self-employed as a political consultant and he's able to speak the truth. I found it interesting that he had the nerve to admit he'd been lying to the public during his tenure as the President's Press Secretary.

My gripe is that Crist and Scott are arguing over a $20-$25 state fee to register a car while they are ignoring a scam by dealers that charges car buyers a phony registration fee. This "fee," which is really pure profit to the dealer, goes by various names such as e-filing fee, electronic filing fee, and tag agency fee. Most dealers in Florida are charging this fake state fee. They charge whatever they think they can get away with. I know one dealer who is charging $498 for an "e-filing fee". The dealers list this phony fee among the legitimate state taxes and fees like license and registration and sales tax. Most buyers never even question it.

Rick Scott says that cutting the actual tag registration fee by $20-$25 will save Floridians $309 million per year. My suggestion to keep the $309 million and use it to fund the Florida AG's office so that they can afford to enforce the laws we already have on the books that car dealers are ignoring every day.

The Florida Attorney General Office claims that they don't have the manpower to monitor car dealer advertising and sales practices. Keeping the $309 million and enforcing the laws would save Florida car buyers a lot more than $309 million per year.

If they take my advice on this, it will solve their budget problem, but it won't solve their problem with "FADA." FADA is the Florida Auto Dealers Association which is a powerful political lobbying organization that contributes lots of money to members of the Florida legislature and candidates for the Florida Attorney General. I've been told "off the record" by many politicians and members of the AG's office that it's nearly impossible to fight FADA.

Only thing that trumps powerful lobbyists are consumers who vote. Unfortunately most consumers don't exercise their right to vote. Those that do are not as well-financed, organized, or motivated as FADA and other lobbying groups. What I've just described is the American political system, which stinks, but it's still the best one on the planet and I'm lucky to be born in America.

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