GM vs NHTSA

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GM CEO Marry Barra addressed Congress today concerning the ignition switch scandal. Details are still emerging, but the GM crisis strategy remains unchanged:

1. Apologize and “accept full responsibility.”

2. Subtly deflect all of this responsibility to the old, pre-bailout GM.

Both parts of this strategy are critical. The facts cannot be ignored, so GM certainly can’t be seen making excuses. But all of this is complicated by the NHTSA, and this is where it gets interesting.

The general public is not only interested in learning why GM did what it did, but also in learning why the taxpayer-funded regulator appeared to look the other way for years. On the surface, this looks like a battle between two entities that reflect what has gone awry in our economic system–a firm that should have never been bailed out vs. an inept government agency. But there’s a third party involved as well, OLD GM.

OLD GM is the perfect scapegoat. It was run by evil corporatists before Obama and the unions ran them off during the bailout. It is legally responsibility for any and all atrocities before bankruptcy. It shafted both the NHTSA by hiding information and the NEW GM by leaving this mess behind. This is why the second part of the strategy is so important, and it’s easy to detect if you pay attention. Barra uses the term WE when accepting responsibility but constantly refers to the need to figure out what executives in the past were doing. She told Congress that “we have to do a better job sifting through all of the information.” In other words, we need to find out what OLD GM did.

I’m not interested in piling on Barra at this point. We still don’t know all the facts, but things are getting worse and she should be held fully accountable for this crisis as it unfolds. It might be convenient to blame everything on OLD GM, but this is not acceptable. There’s only one GM and Ms. Barra is in charge of it.

6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. charles77  •  Apr 2, 2014 @6:13 PM

    Obama played this game for years. Everything was Bush’s fault.

  2. Arthur W.  •  Apr 2, 2014 @6:44 PM

    In a bankruptcy, all liabilities of petitioner must be disclosed. This is for obvious reasons as the purpose of the proceeding is to give the petitioner debt relief. This would be true even in a prepackaged bankruptcy such as GM. Failure to disclose liabilities to the court could have severe repercussions for the parties involved. This is why Barra is walking a tightrope as she was certainly in a position to know about the problem.

  3. Jeff  •  Apr 2, 2014 @7:35 PM

    Where are all the people who piled on Toyota?

  4. Aliza  •  Apr 4, 2014 @10:57 AM

    When a class-action lawsuit against GM will be filed, the court will make it pay just like it made Toyota pay $1.2 billion.

  5. David  •  Apr 4, 2014 @11:17 AM

    I’m suspect of a congress that demands answers for negligent and irresponsible behavior on the part of the private sector, but refuses to be accountable for theirs.

  6. chip  •  Apr 7, 2014 @5:19 PM

    Where’s Obama on this? Why hasn’t he proclaimed that the NEW GM must fully compensate those harmed by the OLD GM?