- The Washington Times - Friday, November 13, 2009

From the moment congressional leaders began contemplating a bailout for automakers, massive waste was a virtual guarantee. At the very least, taxpayer funds would go to subsidize one group of American workers (at Chrysler and General Motors) who are taking a public handout to compete against other American workers (at Ford) who are paying the taxes. Now American workers are forking over their cash to subsidize jobs overseas.

GM is investing bailout money in multiple foreign countries. For example, “Government Motors” is spending your tax dollars in Brazil. According to the president of GM Brazil-Mercosur, Jaime Ardila, the $1 billion to “complete the renovation of the line of products up to 2012” will come from the $50.2 billion bailout GM received earlier this year. Yet at the same time, GM says it intends to eliminate 21,000 U.S. jobs by the end of 2010.

GM plans new investments in Mexico of $1.2 billion through 2011. It has promised to “continue to invest heavily” in China and to roll out at least five new brands there before the end of the year. And last Thursday, General Motors Chief Executive Officer Fritz Henderson said the company could tap some U.S. government aid to help restructure the company’s European Opel unit. According to GM statements, “as a matter of principle, [the U.S. authorities] are not opposed to GM making investments in its foreign operations.”

American companies are right to invest and seek profits overseas. That’s what a free market is all about. But the market is only free when the money American companies invest overseas comes from stockholders who freely choose to invest in the firm and customers who freely choose to buy the firm’s products.

When the government takes tax dollars from hardworking Americans, promises to use the money to bolster America’s economy and then allows the cash to flow across our borders, it invites a populist revolt. GM can’t be blamed for going where the profits are. But profit-seeking isn’t the federal government’s job.