Internal Toyota documents derided the Obama administration and Democratic Congress as “activist” and “not industry friendly,” a revelation that comes days before the giant automaker’s top executives testify on Capitol Hill amid a giant recall.
According to a presentation obtained under subpoena by the House Oversight and Government Relations committee, Toyota referred to the “changing political environment” as one of its main challenges and anticipated a “more challenging regulatory” environment under the Obama administration’s purview.
After all, Toyota is far from the only company that is less than overjoyed with the Obama administration. More important, it is looking more and more like the administration and Congressional Dems overplayed their hands regarding Toyota’s recall woes:
Over in Congress, a geographically notable contingent of representatives piled on. Rep. Bart Stupak (D., Mich.) announced an investigation into “dangerous” malfunctions. Toyota was ordered to report to his Oversight subcommittee hearing next week. Rep. John Dingell (D., Mich.) berated the company for taking “two years” to step up and ripped them for not recalling more models.
UAW lobbyist Alan Reuther demanded Toyota make amends by keeping open a unionized factory in California, currently scheduled for closure. Chrysler, GM and Ford started offering cash incentives for car buyers to trade in recalled Toyotas for domestic wares.
The results of this campaign are now making pols queasy. It was inevitable that such a loud attack would lead to questions as to whether the administration was carrying water for the domestic industry. The White House is today fielding as many queries about its role as owner and regulator as Toyota is fielding about recalls.
This thinking also inspired reporters to dig into Congress’s Toyota ties and to question, conversely, whether it can be tough enough. The press dredged up Senate Toyota investigator Jay Rockefeller’s role in landing his state of West Virginia a Toyota plant. Did you know, the head of NHTSA, David Strickland, worked eight years for Mr. Rockefeller? Or that California Democrat Jane Harman, who sits on the House investigating committee, once made money selling stereo systems to Toyota? You do now.
Considering Toyota’s manufacturing plants in the American heartland, its dealerships nationwide, and the jobs associated with each, it is small wonder that Representatives are thinking about dialing down the nationalistic grandstanding at the Toyota hearings scheduled this week.
Allahpundit-esque exit question: Should lefties be steaming about the possibility that the Obama administration’s crony capitalism is helping Toyota avoid responsibility for consumer safety? Nader 2012, baby!