Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

GM Ignition Switch Trial: Did Obama Protect the Automaker?

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

GM Ignition Switch Trial: Did Obama Protect the Automaker?

Article excerpt

General Motors goes to trial Monday in a lawsuit over its 2014 recall of millions of vehicles - the latest development in the automaker's long-running legal battle over faulty ignition switches.

The case comes as the company is celebrating a record sales year and President Obama is taking credit for saving the Detroit automaker from bankruptcy. But some have questioned whether the administration helped GM by slowing down the recall on the ignition switches.

The federal government's $80 billion bailout of the auto industry, initiated during President George W. Bush's presidency, has become a key element of Obama's own administration. The bailout was a top issue during Obama's re-election campaign, and he has since given hundreds of speeches that cite the initiative as an example of the difficult decisions that needed to be made to turn around the country's economic situation, according to the Detroit News.

"Betting on you was the right thing to do... And that bet has paid off for America, because the American auto industry is back," the president said at a speech in a Ford plant in Wayne, Mich., The Hill reported in January last year.

Following the government's takeover of GM motors and other Detroit-based automakers, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) slapped Toyota with a record fine and demanded a recall of 9 million Toyota vehicles for problematic pedals.

But when evidence began to mount that GM vehicles - in particular the Chevy Cobalt - had issues related to sudden deceleration, the government was slower to respond, noted Liz Peek, a research analyst, in an opinion for The Fiscal Times.

"Why would the Obama administration sanction such a tough crackdown on Toyota, while leaving GM in peace? Certainly, the White House wanted GM to succeed," Ms. Peek wrote. "Having forced through the bankruptcy of GM, under terms that many considered excessively generous to the UAW and unfair to creditors, President Obama had much on the line. …

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