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WSJ Opinion: Washington's Toyota U-Turn


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Washington DC February 19, 2010; The AIADA newsletter reported that the vague screeching noise you hear in D.C., the slight odor of burning rubber? That's the government trying to brake its anti-Toyota campaign. It may be a little late, according to Kimberley A. Strassel at the Wall Street Journal. The Toyota spectacle has become slightly surreal, as a few uncertain questions about "sudden acceleration" morphed into a media and political firestorm over the safety of its entire fleet. It is also proving an interesting case study in the treacherous politics that accompany government ownership of U.S. industry. Washington's initial enthusiasm in bashing Toyota is beginning to backfire. 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. Toyota has not yet laid off a single one of its 34,000 U.S. workers, but that may change. Only a year ago, lawmakers made noise about economic damage if GM or Chrysler went bust. They forestalled that with government ownership. They, and Toyota, are now dealing with the all-too-easy-to-predict political behavior that followed such meddling in the private economy. Click here for Strassel’s entire commentary on the political fallout surrounding Toyota’s recall.