By on October 30, 2014

David Friedman

Think you could be the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s next top boss? Then you’re in luck: The Obama administration is looking for someone to fill the shoes currently worn by interim chief David Friedman.

Reuters reports Friedman will likely be passed over as far as being promoted to permanently take up where previous chief, David Strickland, left off late last year, due to the handling of both the General Motors February 2014 ignition switch recall, and the ongoing Takata airbag debacle.

As for who U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and White House officials have in mind for the top job at the agency, nothing has been made clear thus far beyond Foxx proclaiming a candidate would be nominated in the near future.

Friedman was named deputy administrator upon Strickland’s departure, having joined the NHTSA in May 2013 after working at the Union of Concerned Scientists for 12 years.

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28 Comments on “Obama Administration In Search Of New, Permanent NHTSA Boss...”


  • avatar
    petezeiss

    Would I get to reinstate the 55 limit?!

    I has a CV ready.. where do I go, usajobs? =:-D

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      “Would I get to reinstate the 55 limit?!”

      Only if you want to get fired, or shot

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      Great. Now I have “Convoy” and Sammy Hagar both stuck in my head, which is a double shot of not-so-goodness.

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      After we reinstate the 55 mph speed limit, we can move on to reinstating Prohibition. Because one dumb, ineffective, widely ignored law deserves another.

      • 0 avatar
        Lie2me

        Oh, but there are sooo many

      • 0 avatar
        petezeiss

        “dumb, ineffective, widely ignored law”

        Ya gotta stand for *something*.

      • 0 avatar
        Xeranar

        Actually Prohibition was highly effective, alcohol consumption went down more than 90% in the US. The rise in crime was measurable and relatively violent but most Americans simply abide by the law and didn’t drink. What made Prohibition unpopular and thus saw its repeal was that the dry people were a minority that used poor election attendance to get it passed in the first place. Rock-ribbed conservatives wanted to appease a dry religious base and successfully got it through on largely moral arguments. The fact that most of society had preferred to be wet was of no consequence.

        But again, comparing things to the mythological ‘Prohibition’ is easier than acknowledging the reality of the law itself.

        • 0 avatar
          geeber

          You’re wrong.

          The decline in the nation’s per-capita consumption of alcohol began in 1910, or before Prohibition was enacted. Per-capita consumption of alcohol continued to decline through 1921, and then began rising after that year. By 1929, per-capital consumption of alcohol was ahead of 1918 levels. By 1929, virtually all of it was from technically illegal sources.

          Even worse, Prohibition encouraged people to consume more lethal substitutes, or more dangerous types of alcohols.

          And then there is the fact that Prohibition fueled the rise of the Mafia and lead to increased violence in the cities. It also was a major cause of corruption.

          Prohibition wasn’t just supported by conservatives; plenty of progressives (particularly women) supported it, too. They linked alcohol consumption to things like domestic violence and prostitution.

          As you said, it’s best not to follow the mythological version of Prohibition, which is the one that it worked by reducing consumption of alcohol and was only supported by conservatives.

          I can’t wait to read the revised history that paints the national 55 mph speed limit as a roaring success.

          • 0 avatar
            Xeranar

            Geeber, go ahead and cite your source. I’ll wait. I’m not going to bother responding any further until you can validate the claims being made because all of the historical evidence actually seriously undercuts what you just said.

            The rest can be dealt with after you bring out serious evidence.

            Also, Progressive prior to 1932 doesn’t necessarily mean they supported liberal economic policies or modern progressive attitudes. Progressives that were tied to were generally socially conservative as well as mixed on wet/dry ideology. The dry movement came from both the Temperance societies that were Progressive in that era and strong religious conservatives.

            EDIT: Here goes a scholarly paper to further my point. Consumption rebounds but it was effective at restricting consumption regardless of how you want to spin it.

            Their paper is short and ignores some of the further context that by the mid-20s local law enforcement was growing lax on the matter since people weren’t actually supporting it as a social decision which makes enforcing the law ineffective. But to claim it increased is imbecilic.

            http://www.nber.org/papers/w3675.pdf

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            The data points to lower consumption during Prohibition, and improved health as a result.

            That doesn’t meant that it was good social policy or that it didn’t have any negative effects. (On the contrary, I would argue that it was very bad policy.) But it did contribute to reduced alcohol consumption.

          • 0 avatar
            Xeranar

            I made no argument on whether prohibition was a good policy, I merely pointed out using it as a catch all for ‘bad policies’ is a bit of a misnomer because there were better measures to curtailed alcohol abuse (namely state-controlled liquor boards and stores) that made a markable difference.

            The issue is that we tend to get this attitude that any change in social policy is inherently bad if sufficiently strict. It’s just a matter of your practical perception on the position of the policy and not the policy itself. In other words: The NHTSA isn’t going out of their way to make bad policy, they’re actually stuck in a complex situation where one political party is so aggressively against any form of regulation that nominal and helpful regulation gets painted with an aggressive brush to dissuade any actual movement on it. However you feel about 55 MPH speed limits, when they were introduced cars were modestly capable and fuel savings were realized. As time goes by that could be changed to higher speeds with improvement to engines and cars.

            But when we want to have a discussion on who should head a regulatory commission and people scream about regulation as a tool you have to wonder what is wrong with society.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            “However you feel about 55 MPH speed limits, when they were introduced cars were modestly capable and fuel savings were realized.”

            That’s false. Oil consumption wasn’t really impacted by the lower limits.

            For one thing, many roads in the US already had limits of 55 mph or less, and were therefore not affected. Your average city street doesn’t have a limit anywhere close to 55 mph.

            For another, the lower speed limits were largely ignored. Compliance rates were low.

            And of course, many commuters travel in slow traffic, which renders the speed limit irrelevant. Travel speeds are necessarily low when the roads are gridlocked.

            Research on speed limits is pretty consistent: most people drive at speeds at which they are comfortable and largely ignore the limits. A 10 mph change in a limit often results in a change in average speed of 1-2 mph. With low speed limits, enforcement becomes a random game of cat and mouse, which deters few people as drivers realize that the odds of being caught are low.

            What helped to reduce consumption were smaller cars and reduced driving. The stagflationary economy contributed to this; driving decreases during economic downturns.

            With prohibition, it was hard to obtain alcohol. But speed choices are quite immediate and democratic: people vote with their right feet, in real time. Low limits just breed disrespect for the law, with punishment handed out through a lottery system.

          • 0 avatar
            geeber

            You might read your own source more carefully.

            It “estimated” the consumption of alcohol using “mortality, mental health and crime statistics.”

            The paper you linked to claims that the nation’s consumption of alcohol initially dropped during the beginning of Prohibition (which is what I said, so your source agrees with mine), and then “increased sharply” during Prohibition.

            Which, amazingly enough, is what I said, too, in my earlier post:

            “Per-capita consumption of alcohol continued to decline through 1921, and then began rising after that year. By 1929, per-capital consumption of alcohol was ahead of 1918 levels.”

            Nowhere does your paper prove incorrect that per-capita consumption of alcohol was dropping BEFORE Prohibition was enacted. (The Temperance Movement predated Prohibition, and was having an effect on alcohol consumption prior to the passage of the 18th Amendment to the United States Constitution.)

            Of course consumption dropped more drastically immediately after Prohibition was enacted. All of the legal sources of alcohol were quickly closed. People were deprived of virtually all legal sources of alcohol.

            But the illicit sources soon kicked into gear, and alcohol consumption immediately began rising.

            Incidentally, since your own source claims that consumption was increasing during Prohibition, so is it “imbecilic,” too?

            Here’s the source:

            http://object.cato.org/sites/cato.org/files/pubs/pdf/pa157.pdf

            Xeranar: The dry movement came from both the Temperance societies that were Progressive in that era and strong religious conservatives.

            In which case, don’t suggest that Prohibition was enacted because of support from conservatives, as you originally did.

          • 0 avatar
            Xeranar

            Geeber, you’re still grasping at air, I read the sources, you made an outrageous claim and the reason why alcohol went down before 1920 was because it was being ratified in 1918 and certified in 1919. Alcohol production ceased sometime in late 1918 for most hard spirit producers and in 1919 for shorter-term producers such as Beer. In other words the reduction in 1918 was due to the limitation of availability. It wasn’t going down because of a national habit for less drink which you tried to imply or if you didn’t your argument would have nearly no value. So take your pick, either an idiot or an intentional deceiver.

            Otherwise the same argument holds, Progressives in 1920 weren’t Liberals by default, how many times do I need to explain this to you or are you just daft? Anyways, Temperance movements are actually Conservative by default of their social position, Progressive in their approach, but are not liberal in either the Classical or Modern sense of the word.

            Please try again and using CATO? Seriously….They’re the same ones who argued that trickle down economics work. Not exactly a glowing review of the organization.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            I would no sooner cite a Cato paper on the subject of regulations than I would cite a UAW study to prove the value of unions.

            Cato is only good for knowing what libertarians want to believe. It is not an objective source of research. I would take the NBER over Cato any day of the week.

          • 0 avatar
            geeber

            Xeranar: Geeber, you’re still grasping at air, I read the sources, you made an outrageous claim and the reason why alcohol went down before 1920 was because it was being ratified in 1918 and certified in 1919.

            Try again, this time using all of the reading comprehension skills that you can muster.

            Let me help you.

            I said that alcohol consumption was declining BEFORE the 18th amendment was ratified. It began declining in 1910. The year 1910 was BEFORE 1918, let alone 1920. Consumption then bottomed out in 1921.

            Xeranar: Alcohol production ceased sometime in late 1918 for most hard spirit producers and in 1919 for shorter-term producers such as Beer. In other words the reduction in 1918 was due to the limitation of availability.

            Except, of course, that per-capita alcohol consumption was decreasing before 1918. The Temperance Movement was having an effect before Prohibition.

            Xeranar: It wasn’t going down because of a national habit for less drink which you tried to imply or if you didn’t your argument would have nearly no value.

            The Temperance Movement was having an effect before the enactment of Prohibition. That is why it was able to have the amendment to the Constitution ratified in the first place. Do you think that the Temperance Movement popped up in 1917, or that it had no effect whatsoever on national drinking habits before then?

            Logical reasoning tells us that if a movement was strong enough to successfully push the ratification of an amendment to the Constitution, then it was strong enough to have an influence on national life.

            Xeranar: So take your pick, either an idiot or an intentional deceiver.

            You’ll have more credibility if, a. learn to read arguments and properly respond to them, and. b. refrain from resorting to name-calling as a substitute for knowledge of the subject matter at hand.

            If anyone is being an “intentional deceiver” it is you, as your own source agrees with what I originally said.

            Let’s recount – Prohibition initially reduced drinking, but, as illegal sources came on line, drinking increased throughout the remainder of the 1920s.

            Your own source said this.

            So did I.

            The main source of disagreement is, a. whether alcohol consumption was declining prior to the enactment or Prohibition, and b. how much drinking increased during Prohibition.

            Regarding (b), your source says that it didn’t reach pre-Prohibition levels until the 1930s; mine says 1929. But both sources say the same thing – drinking increased during Prohibition after illegal sources of alcohol stepped in to fill the breach left by the shutting down of legitimate manufacturers and distributors.

            Remember, you’re the one who claimed that it was “imbecilic” to suggest that drinking increased during Prohibition, and then cited a source that made that very claim!

            Xeranar: Otherwise the same argument holds, Progressives in 1920 weren’t Liberals by default, how many times do I need to explain this to you or are you just daft?

            You have to possess superior knowledge of the subject matter at hand to explain anything to someone. You are a long way from that point, trust me.

            You know about as much about this as you do about American car quality versus Japanese car quality in the 1970s, or how the Toyota Lean Production System works and how it has revolutionized auto manufacturing in this country.

            Xeranar: Please try again and using CATO? Seriously….They’re the same ones who argued that trickle down economics work. Not exactly a glowing review of the organization.

            You’ll have more credibility if you prove it wrong than criticize the source. You still haven’t proven it wrong.

            As with automotive history, you’re not quite the expert that you think you are.

            Again, Prohibition ultimately failed, and it was a bad policy.

            For that matter, so was the national 55 mph speed limit. As for your claim that the speed limit was needed because cars were “less capable” then – the interstate highway system was designed to allow a 1956 car to travel safely at 80 mph. By 1964, let alone 1974, cars were more capable than their 1956 counterparts. That is why they were capable of speeds higher than 55 mph. The 55 mph speed limit was a dumb, ineffective law.

            As the old saying goes, a wise man knows what he knows not.

    • 0 avatar
      OneAlpha

      That’s a MINIMUM speed limit, right?

  • avatar
    50merc

    If there is a God in heaven, the new NHTSA boss’ “permanent” tenure will not exceed 25 months, and in January 2017 the agency will no longer be a fiefdom of the radical leftists of the Union of Concerned Scientists.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      Radical Leftists? Sheesh…

      You guys don’t know what a radical leftist is. Some perspective would help.

      A milquetoast neoliberal is not a leftist, nor particularly radical.

    • 0 avatar
      Xeranar

      Radical leftists? Good lord, you are watching too much Fox News.

      Anyways, January 2017 will be Hillary’s swearing in ceremony and most of the 2010 Tea Party Senators being shown the door. It’s not looking good for the right at all in the coming election…or decades…

      But if you’re upset by Obama’s Carter-level of Liberalism you’re really in for a bad time after Clinton.

      • 0 avatar
        darkwing

        Already bracing yourself for Tuesday, I see.

        • 0 avatar
          Xeranar

          When the Republicans squeeze out 51 seats in the senate and all of Obama’s appointments get trashed? Meh, it’s life. Republicans do well when Democrats don’t show up to the polls. 2016 will be a banner year because once again a Presidential candidate will be up and Republicans have nobody that isn’t remotely toxic.

          I really don’t mind the realities of the situation, Gen Y & their younger counterparts are more liberal than Gen X and Boomers. The demographics that made Republican strongholds are dying faster than they be replaced. Georgia is a tight race that just a few years ago would have been a lock. 2016 will put most of the tea party senate on the block in most cases will be ousted, this is a short-term issue, if the Democrats get 50 seats it sets them up for a bigger win in 2016. They get less it’s 2 more years of endless gridlock with no legislation getting through either way and maybe even a farce of an impeachment that will fail miserably. Of course impeaching Obama would probably steel his supporters more than anything so it would be a thrill to watch them do such a hackneyed action to further their inevitable loss.

        • 0 avatar
          Xeranar

          When the Republicans squeeze out 51 seats in the senate and all of Obama’s appointments get trashed? Meh, it’s life. Republicans do well when Democrats don’t show up to the polls. 2016 will be a banner year because once again a Presidential candidate will be up and Republicans have nobody that isn’t remotely toxic.

          I really don’t mind the realities of the situation, Gen Y & their younger counterparts are more liberal than Gen X and Boomers. The demographics that made Republican strongholds are dying faster than they be replaced. Non-whites are only going to increase the disparity as time wears on. So enjoy the mid-term boon, it is the only glory days of conservatives have left. Georgia is a tight race that just a few years ago would have been a lock. 2016 will put most of the tea party senate on the block in most cases will be ousted, this is a short-term issue, if the Democrats get 50 seats it sets them up for a bigger win in 2016. They get less it’s 2 more years of endless gridlock with no legislation getting through either way and maybe even a farce of an impeachment that will fail miserably. Of course impeaching Obama would probably steel his supporters more than anything so it would be a thrill to watch them do such a hackneyed action to further their inevitable loss.

        • 0 avatar
          Xeranar

          Quite interesting to have a comment eaten 3 separate times…

          When the Republicans squeeze out 51 seats in the senate and all of Obama’s appointments get trashed? Meh, it’s life. Republicans do well when Democrats don’t show up to the polls. 2016 will be a banner year because once again a Presidential candidate will be up and Republicans have nobody that isn’t remotely toxic.

          I really don’t mind the realities of the situation, Gen Y & their younger counterparts are more liberal than Gen X and Boomers. The demographics that made Republican strongholds are dying faster than they be replaced. Georgia is a tight race that just a few years ago would have been a lock. 2016 will put most of the tea party senate on the block in most cases will be ousted, this is a short-term issue, if the Democrats get 50 seats it sets them up for a bigger win in 2016. They get less it’s 2 more years of endless gridlock with no legislation getting through either way and maybe even a farce of an impeachment that will fail miserably. Of course impeaching Obama would probably steel his supporters more than anything so it would be a thrill to watch them do such a hackneyed action to further their inevitable loss.

      • 0 avatar
        psarhjinian

        “Radical leftists? Good lord, you are watching too much Fox News.”

        I know. It kills me. I know what a radical leftist is **because I was one for a good fifteen years**. Now that I have kids, I’m just a casual pinko.

        I’d love to see a radical leftist somewhere in US politics, if for no other reason than the country’s political spectrum badly needs recalibration. Obama is, economically, right of Reagan and waaaaay right of Nixon.


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