Can Ray LaHood and the Obama administration fairly regulate GM's competitors? 


Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood is testing White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel's pledge to quit insulting people's cognitive abilities.

LaHood testified today that the drivers on more than 4 million Toyota that have been recalled for a rare defect that causes accelerators to stick should immediately stop driving the vehicles and take them to dealerships immediately set off a bit of a panic. If drivers did as LaHood suggested, it might be a crippling blow to Toyota, already reeling from the news of the recall.

LaHood has retracted the advice, saying it was a misstatement, but there is no doubt that he has hammered Toyota day after day on the recall

This raises a question -- The Obama administration has sunk $60 billion into General Motors and granted operational control of the wrecked carmaker to the United Auto Workers. The administration needs GM to at least look viable, but the long-stagnant company has continued to struggled against private-sector carmakers.

LaHood has relentlessly plumped for GM's pricey electric car, the Chevy Volt, making the plug-in sedan the centerpiece of his remarks at this year's Detroit Auto Show, saying the Volt ""obviously the kind of green car Americans are looking for"

What does LaHood say about Ford (Spotted in Missouri: a dealer sign that read "American owned, not owned by America")?

Ford's big push this at the auto show was for its SYNC technology which connects drivers' wireless devices so that your phone, music, contacts, etc. are all automatically loaded into your car's computer when you get in and then available through voice commands while you drive. One of the company's main pitches is that device reduces driver distractions because it allows for hands-free operation

But LaHood has singled Ford and Synch out for opprobrium as part of his "rampage" against distracted driving saying that SYNC technology needs to be eliminated.

Whatever LaHood is saying, Ford seems to be doing quite well, posting it's first annual profit since 2005 and big sales in January. Toyota, though, has been taking a pounding since the sticky gas pedal problems emerged.

Whether or not LaHood intends to target the government's automotive competitors and praise the government's car company doesn't really matter. He still invites the question of whether a government that owns a car company can still fairly regulate the auto industry.

About The Author

Chris Stirewalt


Washington Examiner Political Editor Chris Stirewalt, who coordinates political coverage for the newspaper and in addition to writing a twice-weekly column and
regular blog posts.

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