Brian Darling | June 30, 2009

Breaking Down Government Motors

Brian Darling

During a recent speech denouncing capitalism, Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez said, "Obama has just nationalized nothing more and nothing less than General Motors. Comrade Obama! Fidel, careful or we are going to end up to his right."

The conversion of General Motors to Government Motors should be of grave concern to all Americans.

It appears that President Bush's bailout of Wall Street merely set the table for an all-out assault by the Obama administration on capitalism.

Thankfully, freedom still has a voice in Congress. Sen. Mike Johanns (R-NE) introduced legislation that would require Congressional approval before the government takes ownership of a private enterprise. This bill would allow Congress to stop the current shift away from free-market principles.

Johanns is not the only free-marketer. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) has introduced legislation to require the federal government to distribute its ownership shares in General Motors and Chrysler to taxpayers when those companies emerge from bankruptcy proceedings. Alexander argues, "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. 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."

Sen. John Thune (R-SD) also joined the fray last month, introducing legislation that would restore private ownership to companies that have been effectively nationalized. The Thune proposal would make July 1, 2010 a new day of independence. By that date, the government would have to sell any ownership stake acquired over the past year and a half. There's no better way to fight the ever-expanding power of the federal government's ownership in private enterprises than to legislate it out of existence.

Brian Darling is director of U.S. Senate Relations at The Heritage Foundation.

Brian Darling

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