By on November 8, 2010


Automotive News [sub] reports that the new GOP majority in the house of representatives will likely mark a shift in the political dynamic between the industry and the US government, as Republicans shift from noisy protest of government support for the industry towards orchestrating reductions in industry regulation. And, according to the Alliance of Automotive Manufacturers, the first victim of the new Republican House could be the Motor Vehicle Safety Act, a set of sweeping regulations aimed at preventing recall scandals like the Toyota unintended acceleration fiasco that took place earlier this year. House Republicans plan on holding hearings on that bill, which has passed committees in the House and Senate but has not yet faced a full vote by either full body. Says National Auto Dealers Association lobbyist Bailey Wood

There will be much more oversight, and the process will slow down

But House Republicans will also face their own challenges. With Democrat JerryBRown winning California’s gubernatorial race, national lobbyists will have a harder time resisting ever-increasing emissions standards, as California is the sole state with authority to independently regulate auto emissions. Though Republicans are likely to support the industry’s resistance to increased fuel economy standards, they will require help from the White House in order to, as the AAM’s Dave McCurdy puts it

rein in some of the more exuberant tendencies in California

With battles brewing over safety and emissions legislation, 2011 is shaping up to be an interesting year for followers of the politics of automobiles.

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41 Comments on “Will GOP Victory Kill The Motor Vehicle Safety Act?...”


  • avatar
    stryker1

    They will if they can.
    Them ‘publicans loves em some deeeee-regulation.

  • avatar
    Uncle Mellow

    As a mere observer , am I right in thinking the Republicans were in control when the US economy went pear-shaped ?

    • 0 avatar
      stryker1

      Silence. This is America. Political memories only go back about 9 months. I think it’s a law.

    • 0 avatar
      windswords

      No they were not. The Democrats had the House and the Senate since November of 06. since it was 2nd term of the administration there was less “fire in the belly” and a lot more “marking time” (this is true of all administrations of both parties). Remember, a president can do nothing outside of an executive order if both branches of Congress don’t go along with it. Only the House can spend or not spend. Only the Senate can approve of presidential appointments (well, they could until president BO came up with the Czar’s). Just want to set the record straight.

  • avatar
    mike978

    Uncle Mellow – I believe you are right. The love of deregulation cost lives and jobs and now they want to do it all over again. When will some people learn?

    • 0 avatar

      Actually, you are incorrect.  A “publican” might have held the white house during the poor economy, BUT “crats” controlled the house and senate.  THEY tend to control regulation and pull the purse strings.  Do a little bit of research and you’ll easily find out OVER regulation in the wrong areas was a real problem as well as a 22% increase in spending over the course of 2 years.  Take a long, hard look at what Russia used to be when bureaucrats told manufactureres what to make. And what it produced automotive wise?  The true free market capitalism way is the only way to allow for long term change in any industry.

    • 0 avatar
      Conservative01

      Uncle Mellow & Mike978, as a conservative fact-minded independent, I believe the information you have been given is not factual.  I believe Bush was in the whitehouse at the time of what you refer to as a “Pear-shaped” economy occured, but the House & Senate have been in control of the democrats since 2006, and in fact the dem’s gained a supermajority in the senate in 2008.  Just to be clear, I am not a Bush supporter, but the House controls the proverbial purse-strings, and the senate formulates alot of the policy so………….. I don’t think you can say the Repub’s were in control.  In fact, back in 2008 the CBO investigation determined that the cause of the severe recession was due primarily to the callapse of the housing market, which was as a result of too many people defaulting on home loans that they really could not afford, but were not able or willing to do the math and figure this out on their own!  Much blame to go around to all parties involved, maybe it’s time to go back to a time when we were accountable for our own actions! Just thinking out load..Go Tea Party!!!

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      Amazingly enough, when asked to point to an act that constitutes “deregulation” that led to the present crisis, the only thing that people can point to is the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act of 1999. Which, of course, had NOTHING to do with it, and actually ameloriated it.

      The roots of the crisis were requiring financial institutions to lessen standards to encourage home ownership, which was started in the 1990s by the Clinton Administration, and the decision to repeal capital gains tax on the sale of a home, which was pushed by a Republican Congress and President Clinton (last time I checked, he was a Democrat). The reduced lending standards required by the first government action spread to regular mortgages, as banks got greedy and home prices escalated (thanks in large part to the repeal of the capital gains tax on the sale of a home in 1997).

      The second move made real estate more attractive as an investment, which spurred speculation in homes, which drove up prices, which required increasingly exotic mortgages to allow middle-income people to buy homes. Please note that the seeds that allowed this to happen were all planted before George W. Bush became president on January 21, 2001. And only the completely clueless believe that we got into this mess because of “deregulation.” Unless “deregulation” now means “government taking specific actions to force private-sector entities to do certain things and giving favored tax status to certain transactions.”

  • avatar
    Zackman

    It doesn’t matter what political party is in power. The forces that collaborate in developing what we drive go much deeper than that.

    What we can be assured of NOT seeing:

    * Deletion of what used to be called “5 mph” bumpers – good
    * Deletion of side impact beams – good
    * Deletion of roll-over standards – get used to thick “A”pillars forever
    * Deletion of — well, you get the point.

    Most, if not all safety standards plus emission standards are here to stay, and that’s probably a good thing. Maybe, just maybe, the upcoming rules will be reconsidered for reasonableness and practicality, though, but most likely not, for when the current powers-that-be just elected wear out their welcome in two years as being ineffective and same-old, same-old, well, what you will get is a continuation of the vicious cycle circling the drain.

    What I’m sure you WILL NOT SEE is the return of chrome bumpers, pillarless hardtops, practical styling and personality, although a few models are attempting some style, so there may be hope, yet.

    Maybe cars will lose weight?

    BTW, is there a review for the car(?) shown in the photo?

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      One thing that people forget is that as more cars are global (Insignia = Regal, Focus is the same verywhere, Cruze the same everywhere etc) then safety rules in other areas (like Europe) will be as important. You are already seeing the effect that European safety rules are having on all German cars sold over here. Maybe not great for design but great for safety and fuel economy.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      To be fair, the thick A-pillars are just as much (and I’d say much more) the product of designer whimsy as they are of safety regulations.
       
      Have a look at, say, the Sienna or Odyssey: for a five-thousand-pound vehicle the pillars are pretty svelte.  You see the same on a few other utilitarian vehicles, yet much lighter fashion victims like the Lacrosse have pillars you can lose a Yaris in.

  • avatar
    carguy

    Safety regulations? The government shouldn’t get between you (or your family) and your deathtrap – if you and your family live or die in a car accident should be left to free market forces!

    • 0 avatar
      Zackman

      When they pry the steering wheel from your cold, dead hands!

    • 0 avatar
      Advance_92

      Or more likely through your cold, dead torso.

    • 0 avatar
      vent-L-8

      i’m not sure if you are being ironic or not, but i agree with you.  Making cars pretty much rolling thick steel boxes with lots and lots of padding leads to very heavy cars with small windows, thick doors and telephone poll sized pillars.  All this while not doing all that much (anything?) with motorcycles doesn’t sync with the “keep people safe at all costs” line which we have been fed.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    …as Republicans shift from noisy protest of government support for the industry towards orchestrating reductions in industry regulation…

    Because, if deregulation is nothing else, it is industry support.

    And it’ll last, too, right up until a) another, competitive and more monied industry needs support, and/or b) there’s some kind of disaster and the politicians in office are forced to look proactive.

    I feel the worst for the starry-eyed Tea Party candidates and their supporters.  It’ll be so hard for them the first time public outcry forces them to sacrifice their principles, if they actually have any.  If fuel spikes it will be fun to watch them squirm.

    • 0 avatar
      FleetofWheel

      Removing a prior govt-enacted obstacle is not support but a rectifying action, to say otherwise is a bootstrap argument.
       
      Less than 2 moths ago you were saying the Republican party was self-destructing, now with the biggest victories in decades you’re reduced to hoping higher gas prices will do them. That and pretending you don’t comprehend the well known Tea Party principles of less(not zero by any stretch) govt and slightly lower taxes.

  • avatar
    210delray

    Actually, 5-mph bumpers were deregulated out of existence almost 30 years ago, during Reagan’s first term.  Bumpers on cars only need to meet a 2.5 mph crash standard.  Bumpers on “light trucks,” meaning SUVs, pickups, and vans/minivans were always exempt from bumper standards.

    Chrome-plated steel is too expensive to use nowadays.  That’s why most bumpers still LOOK like the 5 mph variety — plastic bumper covers over steel bars with some foam in between.

    While I’m not happy with the election results, I wouldn’t mind if the 2010 Motor Vehicle Safety Act never gets enacted — it was born out of hysteria, not reason.

  • avatar
    jkross22

    There was a recent election?  Change!
     

  • avatar
    Amendment X

    I would support a regulation that mandates a certain amount of exterior visibility — such is the greatest threat to today’s drivers.

  • avatar
    panzerfaust

    There could be some federal persuasion of California, given that they have a debt big enough to choke… well an elephant.  But no one can rein in Moonbeam’s exuberant (and feckless) attempts to solve every problem by buring it under tax dollars or pretend that something has been done via legislative obfuscation.

    • 0 avatar
      caljn

      California did just fine under Moonbeam’s first term and that of his father’s before him.  California was the nation’s leader in terms of investment in it’s infrastructure and a high tech future born of a public education system second to none.
      Then Ronnie came along and convinced everyone their taxes were too high and government is bad.  Nevermind the opportunity education brought and quality of life that was available to ALL our citizens.
      Thus began California’s downhill slide…then sadly the nations when those same anti tax and govment arguments previously in Sacramento were transferred to DC.
      The gippers legacy…we are living and breathing it today.

    • 0 avatar
      John Horner

      California during Brown’s first stint: Best education track record in the US. Silicon Valley became, well, Silicon Valley. But, then we had the Prop 13 and Reagan revolutions.
      Now California has some of the worst educational stats in the country and Silicon Valley is awash in empty industrial spaces. Millions upon millions of square feet of empty offices and factories.
       

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      If Proposition 13 hampered the ability of the state to raise taxes, then I wonder why California has the sixth-highest tax burden in the nation. Yet, it is still running huge deficits. I guess Proposition 13 critics would like their home state to have the highest tax burden in the nation – the place currently occupied by New Jersey. Never mind that New Jersey is a fiscal basket case, too.

      If high taxes, lots of regulation and lavish government spending on welfare and public employee benefits were the key to success, then California should be booming. Last time I checked, it isn’t. Only the blessedly ignorant – or the completely delusional – believe that California has been some sort of low-tax haven, where Ayn Rand worshippers have run amok, or is in trouble because of what Ronald Reagan did 30 years ago.

      And please note that higher spending on various government programs does not correlate to better results. California spends more per pupil than Texas and Utah, but guess which one ranks the lowest in student achievement among those three. For that matter, the Washington, D.C. school system spends more per pupil than virtually any other state, but the results are absymal. And that is being charitable.

    • 0 avatar
      Steve65

      “Silicon Valley is awash in empty industrial spaces. Millions upon millions of square feet of empty offices and factories.”

      And still, the ego-driven tech industry continues to build themselves acre after acre of brand-new fancy campuses, rather than use some of the existing space. Nothing quite like watching a new building going up right next to a near-identical vacant one to make one wonder wth they’re thinking.

    • 0 avatar
      stuart

      geeber:
      CA spends more than Texas and Utah because it is so expensive to live in urban/suburban CA. Here in the Silicon Valley, the standard 1500 square-foot 3-bed, 2-bath house costs about $500K. Local school budgets are about 80% salaries (mostly teachers), and teachers get $45-80K/year.  Teachers (and cops, and firefighters) can’t afford to live in the communities they serve.
      Honestly, teachers should be paid *more* locally, out of fairness.  In the 1960s, a teacher in the Santa Clara valley  (before it was renamed “Silicon Valley”) could buy a home on a teacher’s paycheck.  Not anymore, unless that teacher has a spouse with a more lucrative career.
      stuart

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      About 50 percent of California’s spending for education goes to overhead – compared to 20 percent for Connecticut, which is another state with a high cost of living.

  • avatar
    reclusive_in_nature

    Don’t like the idea of new car companies? Then by all means support more regulation. I’m sure all the big, bad evil corporations some of you despise so much would absolutely HATE more competition…

  • avatar
    Beerboy12

    I would be happy if the safety standards focused on safety and not forcing all those ANNOYING chimes on us drivers. By safety I mean, good handling, good breaks, well designed, strong and light body frame etc.
     

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    “With Democrat Jerry Brown winning California’s gubernatorial race, national lobbyists will have a harder time resisting ever-increasing emissions standards, as California is the sole state with authority to independently regulate auto emissions.”
    At some point, California may overplay its hand. When the money is gone and the state has 33 million illegal immigrants living on welfare. OEMs may lose interested in building unicorn fart powered Pelosimobiles.

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    210Delray:  You are correct about the 5 mph standard being rolled back a long time ago, during the anti-regulation presidency of Ronald Reagan.  The result was very telling of the mindset of the industry, who lobbied vigorously for the repeal  of the 5 mph bumper standard.  The industry argued that the higher standard added weight which hurt consumers due to added gas consumption over the life of the car.  I still remember shaking my head in disgust even back then.  Once the standards were rolled back, most makers jumped on the bandwagon, busily saving those consumers a few gallons of gas per year.  The IIHS argued that minor parking lot taps would end up costing motorists hundreds of dollars in collision repair.  They filmed two identical Honda Accords being crashed into a wall at 5 mph, the only difference being the bumper design.  As expected the car with 2.5 mph bumpers sustained significantly more damage than the one with 5 mph bumpers.  Consumer Reports resurrected their “bumper basher” testing device because bumper quality went to hell. SUVs, which always had the lower standard had notoriously weak bumper systems in spite of the rough and tumble image.  Yet another classic example of why industry can’t be left to its own devices when it comes to consumer protection.  However, it is interesting to note that some carmakers (Ford was one of them) chose to keep the 5 mph standard already engineered into their cars.  Chrysler was one who quickly dumped the compression strut in the bumper system for the collapsible steel tube to save a few pennies per car/
     

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      The 5-mph bumpers cost twice as much to repair in accidents OVER 5 mph than the old standard bumpers did, while providing no additional protection, all the while adding weight to the car. They weren’t as good as their proponents made them out to be. 

      The Reagan Administration got rid of the stupid 80-mph speedometer rule, too. Thank goodness. That dumb rule, the 55 mph speed limit and the ignition interlock for the 1974 model year, are solid proof that more regulation isn’t always best.  

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      The Reagan Administration got rid of the stupid 80-mph speedometer rule, too. Thank goodness. That dumb rule, the 55 mph speed limit and the ignition interlock for the 1974 model year, are solid proof that more regulation isn’t always best.
      I agree with that assessment.  Regulation just for the sake of regulation is useless.  All those examples you cite were ludicrous.  You can toss motorized seat belts in there, too, although they almost single handedly resulted in the airbag explosion.

  • avatar
    Acubra

    Hey, how about learning to drive first? And growing up too? The sheer number of supposedly adult folks with a spolt brat’s attitude is astounding, even in this far-better-than-norm forum.
    Any safety starts with a driver. And not even good, but sensible ones are few.
    No motor vehicle can be made absolutely safe. BTW, most important advances in real safety were made without any governmental persuasion. ABS, airbags, crumple zones,..
    And sure, to err  human, but you need a government to really screw things up.

    • 0 avatar
      John Horner

      “BTW, most important advances in real safety were made without any governmental persuasion. ABS, airbags, crumple zones,..”
      Without any governmental persuasion???? What on earth do you base such a statement on? Do you know how hard the industry fought against requiring airbags? Do you know how much industry has lobbied against crash test standards? Do you know that ABS hasn’t actually reduced accident rates, but that stability control has?

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      The auto industry fought against air bags because Ralph Nader and Joan Claybrook wanted them installed as the PRIMARY restraint system. They wanted air bags because people weren’t wearing their safety belts. The auto industry rightly contended that this was dangerous for children and smaller people. History has proven the auto industry correct. Air bags were only feasible once mandatory seat belt laws were enacted.

      Requiring stability control on passenger cars is the perfect example of regulatory overkill. It simply is not needed for the vast majority of driving – unless suburban housewives are taking the family Camry to Laguna Seca on a regular basis. On SUVS and crossovers, with their higher centers of gravity, yes, it is needed.

      Given that both accident rates and fatalities are at record LOWS, the idea that antilock brakes have not reduced those figures is suspicious, at best. There was an INITIAL problem when they were first introduced, as drivers would still try to pump the brakes, rendering the antilock feature inoperable. But people are used to them now.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      Requiring stability control on passenger cars is the perfect example of regulatory overkill. It simply is not needed for the vast majority of driving – unless suburban housewives are taking the family Camry to Laguna Seca on a regular basis
       
      This is not true.  the IIHS, which is very much not a government agency, has recommended ESC on the grounds that it, frankly, saves them money to the same tune that, say, not being eighteen or not driving a sports car does.
       
      ESC saves drivers from reacting incorrectly in extremis, which is when expensive and harmful accidents actually occur; it’s up there with requiring snow tires in winter states in terms of sensibility.  You can, much more easily, get in serious trouble if you’re an inexperienced driver behind the wheel of the family truckster than would someone in a track toy.

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      IIHS has also tended to favor regulations no matter what. The fact that it is not a government agency is irrelevant. As for ESC saving money – the same thing was said about 5 mph bumpers (which cost MORE to repair in accidents over 5 mph) and the nationwide 65 mph speed limit (never mind that insurance rates DROPPED after the repeal of the 65 mph speed limit).

      Mandatory ESC on passenger cars is an example of regulatory overkill. Saying that it works in extreme situations does not prove this incorrect. That is like saying that we should require racing style harnesses in place of seat belts, because some people have accidents at 100 mph.

      The comparison to snow tires is simply not accurate; as snow tires will prevent accidents at low speeds or more common driving scenarios. You don’t have to be pushing your car to the limit to realize the safety advantage provided by snow tires in certain situations.

  • avatar
    Acubra

    @ John Horner
    Educate yourself, my friend. When you strain your gray matter on a regular basis, thinking becomes a habit.
    Somehow automobile managed to develop for the better part of its 100+ years without any governmental involvement. Do you find it strange?
    All concepts I’ve mentioned were either invented, or perfected and made it into production through pretty much voluntary efforts of just one European company.
    Oh, BTW, throw in there the 3-point seat belts, 3rd stop signal and side impact door beams too. Although these come from another country.

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