Sen. Amy Klobuchar put a Minnesota spin on the problems with auto regulation while speaking with federal officials Tuesday. Frankly, it’s too much like hockey.
Consumer complaints to federal regulators were “like a hockey puck going back and forth on the ice,” Klobuchar told Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and National Highway Safety Administration head David Strickland at a hearing on the Toyota recalls. “The drivers would file complaints by the dozens. Federal regulators would open official reviews. Toyota would promise to answer. The regulators would complain about not receiving the information they needed.
"And in the end, almost nothing was done. The puck never got in the net. Nothing was resolved and people died.”
Klobuchar explained to LaHood and Strickland that although the Toyota problems preceded their tenures, they are nonetheless “in charge of cleaning it up.” Part of that cleanup might be changing the "culture" of the agencies.
“I believe there may be a problem of culture here – industry executives can roam the hallways of government unlike consumers,” Klobuchar said. “They are not on an equal playing field. Some of the auto dealers and some of the small businesses that rely on good products also don’t have that same access.”
Toyota reps are expected to testify later this afternoon, but Klobuchar already expressed outrage at some of their activity. The senator referenced a report allegedly presented internally to Toyota employees in 2009 when the company saved money by avoiding a full recall.
“This internal Toyota presentation was entitled ‘Wins for Toyota,’” Klobuchar said. “But it could just as well be entitled ‘Losses for Consumers.”