U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) on the Senate floor today gave out the second “Car Czar” award to several recipients including himself.
“Now, for this second ‘Car Czar’ award, there are many deserving contenders, but there is time next week to honor all these worthy contenders,” Alexander said. “Today’s ‘Car Czar’ award clearly should go to the members of the Wisconsin, Michigan and Tennessee congressional delegations, each of whom met today in Washington with General Motors executives, imploring them to build small cars in our home states. In Tennessee’s case, of course, we were talking about the Saturn plant in Spring Hill, recently placed on standby. In other words, I am giving the ‘Car Czar’ award today to, among others, myself – the senior senator from Tennessee.
“Consider for a moment the implications of all 535 of us in Congress regularly participating in such incestuous behavior. It is one thing, as I did in 1985 as governor, to argue to General Motors to put the Saturn plant in Tennessee right next to the Nissan plant. That was an arm’s length transaction. But it is quite another thing for me as U.S. Senator and a member of the government that owns 60% of the company to urge GM executives to build cars in my state. I can pretend I am making my case on the merits: central location, right to work laws, four lane highways, hundreds of suppliers, low taxes, a successful Japanese competitor 40 miles away. But my incestuous relationship as owner taints the entire affair.”
Alexander pledged that he would continue to “confer “Car Czar” awards – seeking to end the incestuous nature of these meetings and time-wasting hearings – until Congress and the President enact my “Auto Stock for Every Taxpayer” legislation which would distribute the government’s stock in GM and Chrysler to the 120 million Americans who paid taxes on April 15. Such a stock distribution is the fastest way to get ownership of the auto companies out of the hands of meddling Washington politicians and back into the hands of Americans in the market place. It is also the fastest way to allow the car company managers to design, build and sell cars rather than scurry around Washington – under oath – answering questions and being instructed by their political owners how to build cars and trucks.”
Alexander, Senator Robert Bennett (R-Utah), and eight other senators introduced the Auto Stock for Every Taxpayer Act (S. 1198) on June 8, 2009.