Some Republicans are demanding an exit strategy in Obama’s war on capitalism. From Politico, GOP wants U.S. out of auto, bank business
As the federal government settles in as the new majority owner of major U.S. companies, Republicans are positioning themselves as activist shareholders.
While they may not be able to pull off a shareholder coup, Senate Republicans on Thursday will launch their most aggressive proxy battle to date against expanded federal control of corporations, introducing legislation that would force the Treasury Department to divest its ownership stakes in banks, financial institutions and auto companies by July 2010.
Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), the chief sponsor of the divestment legislation, will introduce his bill on Thursday. Under his proposal, the federal government would have to divest its shares by July 1, 2010, and would be prohibited from taking new ownership stakes in private industry, forbidden from influencing management decisions and required to submit a plan on how it plans to end its interest in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
The Administration and some Democrats don’t like the idea of a deadline:
The Obama administration and a fair number of Democrats are likely to oppose such a hard deadline. Steven Rattner, a member of the White House Auto Task Force, told reporters last week that market conditions, economic health and company performance will guide the government’s decision on when to start selling its shares.
“I think we need to keep the pressure on to make sure that the auto industry gets back not only to profitability but gets the government out of their business,” said Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.). “But you can’t make necessarily hard deadlines.”
Some conservative Democrats seem to be looking for a limit on government ownership as well. Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), who pressed Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner about the matter at a Tuesday hearing, says he now wants the Government Accountability Office to study the matter and set a date on when the country should divest from these big firms.
Nelson says he has drafted a resolution that would put the Senate on record stating that the country’s ownership interest of the auto companies is “temporary” and that “our goal is to protect the interest of the taxpayer and begin the process of the divestiture at the earliest practical time.”
Nelson has some competition from his Nebraska colleague, freshman Republican Sen. Mike Johanns, who filed a separate amendment requiring Congress to vote on any use of Troubled Asset Relief Program money that results in the government holding an ownership stake in a company.
The President and many Congressional Democrats had no problem demanding deadlines and exit strategies from President Bush in the war in Iraq, where American lives were at stake. So what’s the problem here?
Thanks to The Foundry