Of Cigarettes, Taxpayers and Ginseng Motors « The Washington Independent
As the Senate this week debates legislation placing the tobacco industry under the oversight of the Food and Drug Administration, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) is proposing an amendment that would give every taxpayer an equal share in the 60 percent of General Motors just acquired by the federal government.
“It’s a pretty simple proposal,” Alexander told MSNBC Wednesday. “And if you think about it, it’s pretty logical. I mean, the government used the taxpayers’ money to buy General Motors, 60 percent of it, so we might as well get that stock out of Washington, and back in the hands of 150 million individual investors.”
Nevermind, for just a moment, that the proposal has nothing whatsoever to do with either the FDA or Joe Camel. The fascination here is that lawmakers remain infatuated with the concept that the Wall Street bailout, used to scoop up GM, was funded by taxpayers.
Do you know how you know that it wasn’t? Because not one taxpayer dollar was allocated to cover the $700 billion tab. Instead, Washington borrowed the cash, largely by selling T-bills to foreign nations like China and Japan.
When lawmakers choose to raise taxes to balance budgets, then they can make claims that taxpayers are owed the goods and services at the other end of the spending. Otherwise, GM would be best considered Ginseng Motors.