Lewis Morris / Feb. 5, 2016

Toyota Burned Again in Gov't Witch-Hunt

To this administration, everybody's a racist.

Toyota’s credit company is being forced by the Justice Department and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to pay $21.9 million to black and Asian customers who allegedly paid more for their auto loans than white customers.

The Toyota Motor Credit Company, which has been under investigation by the feds since 2013, is blamed for local dealers tacking on extra interest to auto loans for black and Asian buyers. The increases to the rates were allegedly 0.18 to 0.27 percentage points, and over the course of the loans that amounted to an extra $100 to $200 that white auto buyers didn’t have to pay.

Individual dealerships have the right to tack on additional interest when they make auto loans to buyers — calculating risk is part of lending — but the feds took issue with the practice after they decided “predatory” lending practices might be taking place. Toyota, as the parent company, was deemed ultimately responsible for the behavior of its dealers, and is therefore saddled with the fine.

The CFPB fancies itself a consumer watchdog dispensing justice at every turn, but in reality it’s just another strongman enforcing the Left’s crackdown on free-market capitalism. Since its inception in 2011, the CFPB has been busy shaking down companies, and using the loot to pay off its leftwing supporters. In a number of cases, the victims it purports to represent are still waiting to be made whole.

The CFPB also invokes a deeply dubious concept to find its discriminatory bogeymen. So-called “disparate impact” is a favorite tool of leftists, allowing them to increase the total pool of victims without having to prove actual discrimination. Its warped worldview states that a company like Toyota is responsible for discrimination even if it didn’t know or couldn’t speculate that its actions would lead to an outcome in which a specific group is discriminated against.

Naturally, in the victim-based ideology known as liberalism, discrimination only takes place against minority groups like blacks, Asians, Hispanics and homosexuals — essentially any group that isn’t white, Christian or financially self-sufficient. And the CFPB has been following this playbook step by step. Toyota is a perfect example.

The automaker was singled out for its supposedly predatory lending practices, just as in 2014 when it was fined $1.2 billion for sticky acceleration pedals. By comparison, General Motors’ cover-up of its faulty car ignition switches led to the deaths of 13 motorists and dozens of injuries — and it received a paltry civil penalty of $35 million.

What’s the difference between the two companies? GM at the time was majority owned by the U.S. government, while Toyota operates a number of assembly plants in right-to-work states.

The government has been rigging the system for years, hoping to steer the economy by picking winners and losers through selective prosecution and political persecution. The result, however, is not a more just marketplace, but one in which innovation is stifled and buyers and sellers ultimately suffer.

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