Taxpayers will lose big on GM

Taxpayers will lose big on GM

When the Treasury Department sold its last remaining shares in insurance giant AIG recently, it announced that it had earned a profit on the controversial bailout that began in 2008. That will not be the case for General Motors.

Treasury has finalized a plan to sell its remaining stake in the nation’s biggest automaker over the next 15 months, beginning with GM buying back 200 million shares from the Treasury by the end of this year. That will leave the government holding about 19 percent of GM’s shares, which it plans to sell throughout 2013 and perhaps into 2014.

The government’s final exit from GM will mark the start of a new era for the carmaker, which has struggled to overcome its “Government Motors” image and chafed under rules that limit executive pay and perks. During this year’s presidential campaign, Republican candidate Mitt Romney said he’d sell all the government’s shares in GM as quickly as possible — even at a steep loss — to get the feds out of the private sector.

President Barack Obama was more circumspect, though he now seems to be following Romney’s advice. CEO Dan Akerson, meanwhile, has complained that GM’s status as a “political punching bag” hurts sales.

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