President Obama was quick to hold investors and company officials accountable after the 2010 BP Horizon disaster, but not nearly enough happened to the government officials charged with overseeing the project and who turned a blind eye or were simply lazy.
Now, members of Congress from both parties are livid with NHSTA about its lax response to the GM ignition switch problem, but the White House is not rushing to get to the root of accountability at NHTSA or replace the administrator.
4. The safety of all GM vehicles is now in question
The first three months of 2014, more than six million GM vehicles were recalled to repair product defects. Of 23 auto brands ranked by Consumer Reports for quality—Chevrolet and Cadillac are 19 and 20. And the consumer watchdog only recommended for purchase about one-quarter of models produced under those nameplates, even before this scandal broke.
If Barra did not know about the ignition switch problem in her position heading product development, purchasing and global supply chain management, what other safely issues is she unaware—or is she aware but not yet revealing?
Until she can certify all GM products are free of suspected but unpublicized safety defects, it is irresponsible to put a child in a GM vehicle.
5. US media bias is whitewashing the president’s culpability
In 2008, I testified before the Senate Banking Committee that a federal bailout of the automakers would be a grave mistake.
Subsequently, after the industry recovered to profitability, I was repeatedly called by journalists asking if I would care to recant my statements.
Now, the failure of the bailout to break the GM culture of complacency toward poor quality and inattention to safety has been fully demonstrated by the ignition switch scandal. But I am not hearing from those progressive advocates of the Obama administration in the Fourth Estate.
Markets, not government ministries, should be left to discipline incompetence but that does not seem to happen in Barack Obama’s America. Instead, we simply “quick wash” insolvent companies, subsidize them and let incompetent managers continue to prey on consumers.
Peter Morici is an economist and professor at the University of Maryland Robert H. Smith School of Business and a widely published columnist. He tweets @pmorici1
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