SEMA News - September 2009
U.S. Congressman and Lifelong Car Guy
U.S. Representative Bill Posey has been passionate about cars all his life, and he has been a friend to SEMA and auto enthusiasts throughout his political career, from his tenure in the Florida Legislature to his current position in the nation’s capital. Posey represents Florida’s 15th Congressional District, which encompasses most of Brevard County and includes Cape Canaveral and cities from Vero Beach to Palm Bay, Melbourne and Kissimmee. He was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2008.
Currently, Posey serves on the House Financial Services Committee and its two subcommittees on capital markets and domestic monetary policy. Prior to being elected to Congress, Posey served for eight years in the Florida State House and another eight years in the Florida Senate, where he led the successful effort to reform Florida’s insurance laws to increase competition and lower rates.
SEMA and Posey have been well-acquainted from the time he served in the Florida State Senate. He was a charter member of SEMA’s State Automotive Enthusiasts Leadership Caucus and sponsored SEMA-model legislation in 2007 to amend the vehicle titling and registration classification for street rods and create a new classification for custom vehicles. In 2008, he introduced legislation to provide an exemption from the commercial motor carrier regulations for vehicles that occasionally transport personal property to a motorsports facility. Both bills were enacted into law.
Along with his political skills, Rep. Posey is an accomplished stock car racer, having received the “Short Track Driver Achievement” in memory of Davey and Clifford Allison and presented by Bobby and Judy Allison.
SEMA News recently spent a few minutes interviewing the Congressman from his Capitol Hill office.
SEMA News: Let’s talk about your love of cars and racing. What sparked your interest?
Bill Posey: It started when I was just a child. We lived in California, and my Dad took me to races at a track in Encino. I loved it, and we had a great time together. I became involved in midget races at around the age of five. We would go to a track in Culver City and other places around Los Angeles. I started racing motorcycles at about the age of 13 or 14. By this time I knew I was a guy who really loved racing—it was in my blood. I bought my first car in 1962. It was a 1951 Ford flathead. Back then, you had to be 16 to race. I was only 15 and would sneak in and go a few laps before they stopped me. I have owned 20 or 30 race cars over the years. I’d get them, fix them up, and race them.
SN: What cars have you been working on more recently?
BP: I sold off my race cars and moved into classic cars. I’ve mostly been involved in what they call the super-late models—cars of the last 20 years. Also, I would get fiberglass bodies of cars from the 1930s, put in a Chevy V8 motor and build around those. I enjoyed that quite a bit but eventually sold them. Today, I own three cars. I have a 2003 silver Mercury Marauder and a pewter 1966 Chevelle Malibu. I also have a gold 2005 GMC 1/2-ton.
SN: Switching gears, tell us how you got involved in politics?
BP: I never aspired to be in politics. It started when I attended a Rockledge city council meeting. I came away with the feeling that the whole business of running the city council and local government could really be done better. I was first elected to the city council and then won a seat in the Florida House and later the Florida Senate. I moved up the chain and devoted a lot of my attention to doing things better than they had been done before, while striving for efficiency and accountability. From the Florida Senate, I was elected to the U.S. Congress last year.
SN: What has been the most unusual or unexpected aspect of your life as a U.S. Congressman from Florida.
BP: I suppose there are many things, but the first thing that comes to mind is the cost of living in Washington, D.C. The city is a very expensive place to live as compared with our Florida home. My wife Katie and I have been married for 42 years, and in all that time, we have never had to share such a small living space.
SN: Let’s discuss some of your current duties. Health care reform is at the top of the Congressional agenda. What’s Bill Posey’s prescription for reform?
BP: There are many good options that have been put forward. We must begin by recognizing that 80% of Americans are happy with their current coverage, but 50% are concerned about the price. My priority for health care reform therefore starts with making coverage more affordable, then protecting patient choice, keeping the government out of medical decisions, and opposing mandates on employers.
I became involved in midget races at around the age of five. We would go to a track in Culver City and other places around Los Angeles. I started racing motorcycles at about the age of 13 or 14. By this time I knew I was a guy who really loved racing—it was in my blood. I have owned 20 or 30 race cars over the years. I’d get them, fix them up, and race them.” —Representative Bill Posey
SN: What specific policies do you think would work to make coverage more affordable?
BP: Improving affordability can be done through enhancing employer purchasing pools and by providing additional tax credits and deductions to individuals and small businesses. Also, more than eight million Americans have enrolled in Health Savings Accounts, which are getting good reviews from enrollees.
SN: What do you see as the biggest risks to the country and small business in this process of reform?
BP: Some in Washington want to scrap the current system and turn the health care system over to the government to run. Those who think this is a good idea need to consider closely the government’s track record. It has a poor track record and cannot figure out how to keep solvent the three programs they are already running: Medicare, Medicaid and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program. I don’t want rules that lead to the government making medical decisions and I don’t want new expensive mandates on employers. Those are the biggest risks in my view.