Automakers tell Congress why fuel-economy improvements won’t work

Congress hosted a few more cranky white men yesterday, as the CEOs of Chrysler, Ford, GM, and Toyota’s North American division appeared before a House subcommittee to explain why they couldn’t possibly raise fuel-economy standards. Joined by the head of the United Auto Workers, the churlish chiefs pointed to the high costs of meeting a 4 percent a year raise proposed by President Bush, saying it posed a threat to jobs and retirees’ health care. They also said using ethanol and regulating tailpipe emissions would be better ways to wean the U.S. off of foreign oil. Congressfolk, when they weren’t stroking these engines of the economy — a Mississippi rep called Toyota’s head a “Tupelo honey” for building a plant in his state and Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.) referred to the fellas as his “dear friends” — laid into the companies for making excuses and resisting change. Whined Ford CEO Alan Mulally at one point, “We need our government to be partners, not adversaries.” Or maybe you need to grow up.