U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-08) today held a roundtable with Passaic County automobile dealership owners to discuss the struggling auto industry and ways for Congress to stimulate business at local dealerships.
With valuable input from the roundtable, Pascrell drafted a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi requesting that a number of emergency consumer tax deductions and credits be considered should Congress move to aid the auto industry.
"I will not sit idly by and watch local car dealers struggle in the shadows while Congress considers legislation to aid manufacturers," stated Pascrell. "Car sales account for one-fifth of the retail economy. When sales slow down, employment drops and consumer confidence becomes further depressed. With a little stimulus from the federal government, I am confident that we can stimulate sales, put people to work and help get the economy back on track."
Pascrell is also preparing stand alone legislation aimed at providing an emergency boost for automobile sales at the retail level.
A copy of the letter is below:
November 13, 2008
The Honorable Nancy Pelosi
Speaker of the House of Representatives
H-232 Capitol Building
Washington, DC 20515
Dear Madam Speaker:
I applaud you for your leadership in the passage of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). TARP has provided much needed support to our financial markets; however, as we have discussed, more has to be done to bolster our economy. In recent news, we have learned that the auto industry has been particularly hard hit, with Ford and General Motors pleading for government help after car sales plummeted 18 percent this quarter.
For the first time since 1993, automakers sold fewer than a million new cars and trucks in a single month. The credit crisis and flagging consumer confidence have contributed heavily to this steep decline. There is no question that Congress must act swiftly to aid this vital industry. Auto dealerships and retailers play a central role in the economic health of the auto industry and well capitalized and financially sound dealer networks are essential to the success of manufacturers, especially to those facing economic challenges.
Any government intervention to help automakers will not work unless auto dealers are part of the fix. Congress must work to ensure that assistance to automakers stabilizes dealers as well and does not create adverse effects on them. Therefore, we must include dealer representatives in the current discussions.
Congress must help preserve dealer viability as we consider requests for government intervention to support the ailing auto industry. Specifically, any aid given to the auto industry should accompany specific tax proposals to drive consumer activity at the retail level. They include deductions for interest on auto loans and vehicle sales taxes, refundable consumer tax credits for cars and truck buyers and incentives for consumers to upgrade old vehicles with new more energy efficient models.
When Congress returns to session next week, I will introduce legislation that will make interest on consumer auto loans and vehicle sale tax deductable through the end of 2009. This bill has also been introduced by Senator Barbara Mikulski in the Senate. Given that auto sales account for one-fifth of the retail economy, I strongly urge you to consider this proposal in the assistance package for automakers.
With industry sales dropping at least 30 percent over all compared with a year ago, car companies and dealerships are likely to cut more production and jobs to compensate for falling revenues. That result would cause increase in unemployment and it would be a further detriment to our economy.
I urge you to lead our nation in undertaking this critical issue. Thank you for your consideration of these requests and for your dedication to the development of an additional stimulus package that will bring real relief to our suffering economy.
Bill Pascrell Jr.
Member of Congress