Senator Lamar Alexander Wants Taxpayers, Not Lawmakers, to Have Control of GM

This is a rush transcript from "Your World With Neil Cavuto," June 4, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: All right, well, we know that the government is going to own 60 percent of the new GM and a chunk of Chrysler, but what do you get for that?

My next guest has a plan of sorts here — actually, it is not of sorts — it is a plan — to give taxpayers a piece of the action, all the shares of GM and Chrysler, stock. Then, instead of answering to Washington, the automakers will answer to you, to us.

Lamar Alexander, Republican senator from Tennessee.

Senator, good to have you.

This — this is a novel idea. I guess we do own a chunk of it. We might as well have the proof, right?

SEN. LAMAR ALEXANDER (R), TENNESSEE: Yes, instead of having it in the name of your government, you have it in your own name.

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After GM comes out of bankruptcy, the — the government will own about 60 percent of it, and about 8 percent of Chrysler. And taxpayers have paid $50 billion for that GM stock. So, I'm introducing legislation, along with some other senators, that say, within a year, give the stock to any American who paid taxes on April 15. So, you would end up with a few shares of GM stock, and the government would stop meddling.

CAVUTO: Still, you could have worthless pieces of paper, too, right?

ALEXANDER: Well, it could, but, if — if it is worthless, it is worthless here in Washington.


ALEXANDER: So, if it's going to go up, it might...

CAVUTO: Well, that is a very good point. No, that's a...

ALEXANDER: ... it might as well be in your pocket. It was your money.

CAVUTO: It is your money. It might as well be your worthless paper, too.

ALEXANDER: Might as well — yours.

CAVUTO: Well, let me ask you, though, Senator, why not extend this to any rescued entity, Merrill Lynch, Bank of America, you know, AIG, and on and on?

ALEXANDER: It is a little more complicated. That might be a good idea.

And I want to take a look at — at — at the financial institutions. But I am sure that, as far as the auto company goes, it is a good idea. Take, for example, yesterday, you had GM and Chrysler's CEOs testifying four hours. Now, I'm sure they drove here in their congressionally- approved hybrid method of transportation. So, that would take them all day to get from Detroit, testify, and go back.

How many cars did they sell? How many did they design? I mean, how many did they build while they were up here? We have got 60 congressional committees or subcommittees that could be hauling them here every other day. We have got the president calling up the mayor of Detroit, telling him where the headquarters ought to be, tell — and the auto task force telling — telling them they're making too many SUVs and — and that the Chevy Volt costs too much.

How are they — how are they going to run a company?

CAVUTO: Well, Senator, can't these guys say — can't Fritz Henderson say, if another committee — and you're right — there are so many different committees looking at this — can't he say, look, I would love to chat with you in Washington, but I have got a company to run; I got have an operation to turn around; I can't make it with you?


CAVUTO: But he has got 535 bosses now, and a big one in the White House, right?

ALEXANDER: Yes. They can subpoena him.

And if your big lender calls up and says, do this, do that, do the next thing, you are probably going to take his call. So, the only way to get out of that situation is to get the stock out of here, Washington...

CAVUTO: Right.

ALEXANDER: ... and into the hands of somebody else. It's going to take several years to do it, the way the Treasury plans to do it. So, I say just do it in the next few months, create a sort of Green Bay Packers among 120 million American...


ALEXANDER: ... American...


ALEXANDER: You know, everybody loves the Packers in Wisconsin because — because they own a piece of them.


CAVUTO: Well, it's true.


CAVUTO: But let me ask you, though, Senator. Be careful what you wish for, right? Let's say we all do get stock certificates in this new entity, right?


CAVUTO: Then we're making — we're making a little bit of money. What's to stop all those Americans from cashing out the same day? It would drive GM right into the ground again, right?

ALEXANDER: No, it wouldn't. It would just drive the stock into the ground.

Americans wouldn't do that. Then they would be in the great old thing we used to call the marketplace. You know, we have hundreds of millions of stock shares floating every day. People buy them and sell them and trade them.

CAVUTO: Right.

ALEXANDER: This would put them where we're accustomed to having them. But the main thing is they can't run the car company if they're getting directions from 535 congressmen and senators who don't know anything about building cars.

I mean, they're going to have a hearing on — on why are you buying an electric battery from South Korea to put in the Chevy Volt, when you could be buying it from my congressional district.

Well, the reason they're doing it is because it works and it's cheap and it might make them some money.

CAVUTO: So, everything is going to be scrutinized and they will never be able to get past go.

ALEXANDER: No, that's right.


ALEXANDER: Plus, I think Americans are sick of the idea of the government taking over everything and trying to run it. We don't know how to run a bank, a car company.


ALEXANDER: And we ought to get rid of it as soon as possible.

The president of GM said it would probably take several years just to manage down this huge amount of stock.

CAVUTO: That's right.

ALEXANDER: So, let's just put it back — let's put it back in the pockets of the taxpayers, who paid for it in the first place.

CAVUTO: Well, good or bad, I mean, we own it. So, you're probably on to something.

Senator Alexander, always good having you. Thank you very much.

ALEXANDER: Thanks for your time.

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