- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 4, 2009

A Republican senator wants taxpayers to get their share — literally — of the federal government’s takeover of two of the nation’s biggest automakers.

Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, is introducing a bill that would require the government to distribute stock in General Motors and Chrysler LLC to each individual taxpayer.

“Instead of the Treasury owning 60 percent of shares in the new GM and 8 percent of Chrysler, you would own them, if you were one of about 120 million individuals who paid taxes on April 15,” Mr. Alexander told reporters Thursday on Capitol Hill.

The bill also would prohibit the Treasury from using any more taxpayer funds to bail out GM or Chrysler and would require the Treasury to seek a maximum return on the taxpayers’ investment.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, declined to comment on the bill.

While unlikely to pass, the legislation underscores widespread unhappiness in Congress with the government’s new ownership stake in the two U.S. auto giants and its role reshaping the companies through bankruptcy proceedings.

“This is the fastest way to get the stock out of the hands of Washington and back into the hands of the American people in the marketplace where it belongs. The stock certificates would be in your name, not that of your government,” Mr. Alexander said.

He insisted the plan would not saddle taxpayers with stock in failing companies.

“Those shares might not be worth much at first, but put them away and one day they might contribute something toward a college education,” he said.

The bill, to be titled the “Auto Stock for Every Taxpayer Act,” would set a deadline to distribute the stock within one year following the emergence of GM and Chrysler from bankruptcy proceedings.

Mr. Alexander said he would introduce it as an amendment to a Senate bill giving the Food and Drug Administration jurisdiction over the tobacco industry.

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