New General Motors CEO Mary Barra will testify before Congress Tuesday about why it took so long for GM to issue product safety recalls involving faulty ignition switches that caused air bags to fail in crashes, contributing to thirteen deaths. She will testify alongside David Friedman, the acting head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), who will be expected to explain why the government did not act sooner.
They ought to be accompanied by former Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, as well as “car czars” Steven Rattner and Ron Bloom, together with White House and Treasury officials who oversaw the government’s huge bailout of General Motors. Many–though not all–of the safety problems happened on their watch. In addition, LaHood and other Obama administration officials led a witch-hunt against Toyota during the same period.
It was LaHood who led the hysterical propaganda campaign against Toyota, telling the public that Toyotas were unsafe to drive because of sudden-acceleration problems. Democrats and the mainstream media piled on. Toyota did recall vehicles for a problem involving its floor mats, but the problems with Toyota’s electrical systems that were supposed to be causing its vehicles to accelerate out of control failed to materialize.
LaHood and the Obama administration attacked Toyota during a period when GM, now being run with direct input from the White House, had lost its #1 ranking in global auto sales. That was considered an urgent priority. So while the government was ignoring real and deadly safety problems at GM, it was trying to scare consumers about nonexistent problems at Toyota. The White House owes victims’ families, and the public, an explanation.