Obama, Congress, Knew About AIG Bonuses For Months

The AIG furor continues as it turns out Obama and Congress knew about the AIG bonuses for months but previously, on the advice of lawyers, felt powerless to stop them. Question for the audience: is figuring out what happened with the AIG bonuses fundamentally important to get the economy back on track, or is it just another media circus sideshow?

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  1. Yossarian says:

    Hypocritical grandstanding.

    • brainswarm says:

      @Yossarian: It’s what politicians do best. Hypocritical Grandstanding knows no party line.

    • Trai_Dep says:

      @Yossarian: It’s funny how there’s always that 22% that resists all efforts of reasoned discussion.
      It struck me since that same rough figure shows up for this poll.
      And yeah, grandstanding. :)

  2. Yankees368 says:

    This is such a tiny, microscopic part of what is wrong with the economy. Of course, it does not help that buried in the bailout was this clause that no one “knew about” until CNN dug up who put it in, and then suddenly Dodd knows about it again.
    This is distracting us from the real problems. Can we please move on already?

    • mac-phisto says:

      @Yankees368: yes. i think we’ve made our point. now can we get back to the carcass-raiding by merrill execs to the tune of $3.6 billion?!?

    • zonk7ate9 says:

      @Yankees368: True, but the majority of the US population are just like sheep. Their local news station tells them this is outrageous, and then they get all up in arms about it. It’s %0.1 of the money we gave them, but in order to restore confidence we have to make the sheep-like masses happy.

      • zonk7ate9 says:

        @zonk7ate9: I meant to make a suggestion in the post above.

        Why not tell the bonus recipients, either give them back or we’ll release your names?

  3. Saboth says:

    I’d say it is important. Obviously rewarding people that perform poorly will not help our economy, so they should figure out how to prevent the “good old boy” network for rewarding themselves for bonuses for driving a country to its knees. So they should figure out a way to have fair compensation for these individuals without letting said people get their hands into the cookie jar. No more golden parachutes, performance bonuses for performing poorly, retention bonuses for people that should be fired.

    • Brazell says:

      @Saboth: “Obviously rewarding people that perform poorly will not help our economy”

      That theory, though, is also the underpinning of every government assistance program ever created.

      • oneandone says:

        @MichaelBrazell: Those aren’t rewards; they’re the provision of basic resources neccessary for healthy survival. The people who receive them aren’t usually people who have underperformed at their job, or underperformed in any other way – they’re people who’ve been underserved by the existing employment, health, or disability systems we have and either need assistance getting back in or need time until the system adapts to new situations. And, often, the motivation for government assistance isn’t to help our economy – it’s to reinforce principles of justice, fairness, compassion, stability, and equal opportunity.

  4. basilray says:

    What happened to all the oversight and transparency…and change?

    Thanks for pulling the wool over America’s eyes, Obama.

  5. SkokieGuy says:

    I think the pitchforks and torches should be reserved for the members of Congress (both parties) who voted for bailouts without strict oversight. Actually some limits were REMOVED during discussion in committee, before voting on the floor:
    [www.politicalforum.com]

    To own 80% of a company and have no seats on the board and no ability to control the company’s destiny is laughable.

    Rather than the media circus to disclose the names of who will receive the bonuses, let’s disclose who was involved in removing the language that would have blocked these bonuses.

    • Papa Midnight says:

      @SkokieGuy: Everyone’s too busy saying “Not me”.

    • Corporate_guy says:

      @SkokieGuy: The fed threw 80 billion at AIG in September without anyone else’s involvement. Once that happened, everyone else’s hands were tied. It’s a little hard to withhold 30 billion dollars from a company over bonuses and end up losing 80 billion(I think 150 billion after the tarp money) when you drive the company into bankruptcy.

      The current administration and the current congress didn’t cause any of this. The CEO of AIG did not cause any of this. The Fed caused all of it in September under the Bush administration. They did what they did because they wanted this money to keep business as usual. They did not look at the political ramifications. Now the Obama administration has to either throw in the towel on AIG or continue the mess Bush and Bernacke started. Throwing in the towel isn’t really an option.

      In the end restricting contractually guaranteed bonuses in exchange for accepting funds without providing any legal protection from lawsuits would have been an idiotic idea. If congress can tax them back, then that is what they should do. But whatever they do needs to be legal. Because the million+ dollar recipients who left AIG are pretty much guaranteed to sue and could win.

      • ionerox says:

        @Corporate_guy: Go back even futher. Congress and Senate started it by changing federal laws that allowed the boom in Credit Default Swap and CDO markets in the first place.

        Bonuses aside, all the complaints about how AIG is doing business now is just too late. They absolutely should have put more oversight in place in September, put AIG in receivership and actually take over instead of just handing them money.

    • mac-phisto says:

      @SkokieGuy: i believe the name you’re looking for is “chris dodd”. up until this debacle, i was actually pretty impressed with his work as one of my senators.

      i can partially understand his motive: many of these individuals are connecticut residents. the fallout of the financial industry as a whole may prove to be quite devastating to fairfield county. as a senator, he does have a responsibility to his constituents & like it or not, these people are his constituents. & a large source of his campaign dollars.

  6. David Eckert says:

    It’s extremely important, but not in a direct way. This slip-up will cost Obama the credibility he would need to push the stimulus any further. With crap like this, it’s going to be hard to push through anything new. Which is a good thing, since this pork barrel spend-a-thon is only stimulating palm greasing.

    • Ninja007 says:

      @David Eckert: Obama needs to earn that credibility. His political career has just been campaigning. He still hasn’t done anything substantive other than being the first black president.

    • Corporate_guy says:

      @David Eckert: I am not sure it loses him credibility by preventing lawsuits against AIG in a situation created by the last administration. Everyone needs to calm down and realize the fed screwed up big time when they gave AIG 80 billion with no strings attached back in September. Adding strings after the fact doesn’t work.

  7. Radi0logy says:

    this is symbolically imperative if not literally imperative. those that plead for the country to “move on” and “think of more important things” i suppose are of the opinion that we only have the ability to do one thing at a time. dont worry, oh easily distractable adhd folks, we can manage to do both.

  8. Ameer Hashw says:

    Heres an effective way to remove the “good old boys” network. Institute term limits on congress.

  9. Brazell says:

    In terms of the real economic effect, the bonuses are so insignificant that the amount of time congress and politicians are spending getting pretend “outraged” on them is ridiculous. I really don’t care about bailout money going to “bonuses,” because these are commissioned employees, and the amount of money that will go to a bonus is so paultry compared to the amount of money going anywhere else either in the bailouts, stimulus, or anywhere in the budget.

  10. Anonymous says:

    It might be insignificant, but we are already bailing out failing companies, I do not want their executives to profit from this. It is important to me, because at some level I want to know that these people get what they deserve (i.e. losing bonuses) and there is some justice…

  11. VA_White says:

    Liddy explained it very well yesterday. He was thinking like a businessman and decided the thing that was less risky and less costly over the long run was to pay the bonuses to keep the people there long enough to liquidate their books. Legally it was iffy to deny payment and practically it would have disastrous if the bonus-getters walked out in protest over money they were promised and not given.

    The histrionics over this are over the top and it bugs me that it was only after a major public outcry did anyone at the top give a shit. I find the huge bonuses obscene but when he says 165 million vs 1.6 trillion, it makes sense to pay and suck it up as cost of getting out of the mess they are in.

    Reacting to this emotionally is not going to help.

    • bonzombiekitty says:

      @VA_White: Agreed. I think congress, etc were likely thinking the same way as Liddy. They figured it would be more expensive to withhold the bonuses rather than just give them as a cost of fixing the mess. As you said, they were thinking as businessmen.

      Unfortunately, the general public doesn’t think like businessmen. In issues like this, we react emotionally, and that’s a big problem. The taxpayers basically own AIG, you cannot manage a business based on emotion. If you wanna get the money back we put into the company, some things will have to be done that seem/are unfair.

      Rather than griping on how unfair it is, we should be asking whether or not it was the best course of action. Was it? Would giving the bonuses have cost more money than not giving them? I don’t know – I don’t have the information to make that judgment.

      Actually from the looks of it, it worked out REALLY well. The bonuses were given, so the employees who needed to be retained were/are retained. Now it looks like we’re getting the bonus money back one way or another. So we basically had the necessary retention at no real cost.

  12. tc4b says:

    As an independent, I don’t like this. While no politician is ever going to be really great, Obama at least seemed rational and, well, kinof grown up. I’m disappointed that this whole snafu over so little money is going to cost him political capital. “Holier than thou” is dangerous territory for any politician. After caving on telcom immunity, inability to appoint people who pay their taxes, and now this, I’m veering from ‘cautiously optimistic’ toward ‘bitterly resigned.’

    • Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ã‚œ-゜ノ) says:

      @tc4b: It’s always going to be a choice between a douche and a turd sandwich until people really do accept that there are independent parties and that voting for one of them isn’t throwing your vote away if there’s enough voting with you.

  13. Saboth says:

    To the people bashing Obama…I don’t think it is quite fair to expect one man to read packages that hundreds of congressmen have worked on for hundreds if not thousands of manpower hours, and expect him to recognize every nuance and facet of every sentence. Especially when he has been in office only a few weeks at the time all of these bills were being tossed around. There is plenty of time at the zero hour for greasy congressmen to slip in bits of language.

    • ZekeSulastin says:

      @Saboth: It’s his job.

    • Ninja007 says:

      @Saboth: this is his baby. He pushed it thru and said it would help save the economy. You need to get your facts straight before you post.

    • ADismalScience says:

      @Saboth:

      Would you have granted, for example, George W. Bush (or any Republican, for that matter) this degree of forbearance? I understand he had many mistakes, and after a while it was all incompetence. But think about it.

    • SpaceBat_GitEmSteveDave says:

      @Saboth: If you want to take credit for it, you also have to take flak for it when/if it goes bad. I mean, if you want to go on Jay Leno to talk economics, then shouldn’t plans you back be solid?

  14. nataku8_e30 says:

    While these specific bonuses are essentially irrelevant to the economy, they are indicative of the mentality that has caused and will continue to cause fraud and / or corporate policy that emphasizes short term gains over long term profitability or even viability. While I believe that this is a sideshow, it is somewhat important to try to establish these practices as unacceptable. Whether these proceedings will be enough to get the message to sink in with other executives is doubtful.

  15. ADismalScience says:

    They tried to get in front of an issue from a PR perspective. It’s a common political tactic, and the public’s anger is mostly focused on AIG at this point. Given the response of the media and I’d say their strategy of grandstanding was effective in shifting blame to “those evil executives and traders” before the truth could out. The only way out of this, from the banks’ perspective, is to get the hell out of this TARP nonsense and become independently-functioning entities again. Any involvement with Washington just results in blame-shifting, uncertainty, arbitrary decisions, and recrimination.

    It’s a good scared-straight moment, I guess, when it comes to liquidity strategies – banks will finally be motivated to stay over capital requirements to ensure they never have to go through this again. The long-term effect on lending though, that’s the rub; I think rates will be vastly, vastly higher going forward. Washington is adding a serious risk premium to future lending with all of this. I’m afraid the result will be sustained unemployment in concert with drastically higher interest rates for consumers, the overall effect being much lower consumption. Maybe that’s a good thing, especially given this website’s audience and attitude toward debt, but there’s a certain class of Americans who will watch their lifestyle disappearc completely.

  16. Canino says:

    If I may dust off my comments from the previous thread:

    [consumerist.com]

    “If they [Congresspeople who voted for the bailout] didn’t know [about the bonus situation], they were incompetent. If they did, they were complicit in the bonus being given out. Period.”

  17. dwhuntley says:

    My question is, what company gives out a bonus when the employees are not only screwing up, but running your company into the ground! What kind of leader or CEO does that? It’s bizarre! But an even better question would be….are they hiring! Because I neez me one of them jobz.

    • ADismalScience says:

      @dwhuntley:

      At this point, you cannot quantify their job performance by the bottom-line performance of the transactions they engage in. It’s counterintuitive, and I understand that this makes no sense to a layman, which is condescending to say. But those are the facts.

      • BluePlastic says:

        @ADismalScience: Well, then, how is their performance measured? Seems like they get huge bonuses no matter what – I would be interested in the wording of these contracts to see if there are any conditions in which they would *not* get a bonus.

        If any regular, non-executive employee did so poorly at his job, he’d be out and there certainly would be no bonus.

    • ZekeSulastin says:

      @dwhuntley: … a company that’s contractually obligated and specifically legally free to via exemption?

  18. Ninja007 says:

    Obama and the congress were in such a hurry to pass the stimulus bill that they didn’t even read it. That is unacceptable

    • Citizen Kang says:

      @Ninja007:

      You’re a fool if you think every member of Congress reads every page of every bill they vote upon. It never has and never will happen. I’m not saying it’s right, but to feign indignation because it’s politically expedient for you is being facetious at best and intellectually dishonest at worst. Take your pick.

      • Cattivella says:

        @Citizen Kang: You mean he’s a fool for expecting Congress to DO IT’S FREAKING JOB? They don’t do anything else! This isn’t small town government where the politicians have side jobs. This IS their job, they’re paid well for it and they have many, many people on staff to help them.

        If they’re not reading every page of every bill they’re voting on they’re not doing their job.

  19. SonicMan says:

    I do not think this is insignificant. Sure its just a bit over 100 million. But A hundred million here, and a hundred million there, soon you are talking about real money…….

  20. Ryan Orman says:

    i think we should just take all the money back from aig and let them go bankrupt. and then we can move on.

  21. Coyote says:

    Humans are a very simple minded species. We like to have black/white good/evil terms spoon fed to us. In this case the AIG members on the list are an identifiable enemy, they are the cause, they are the reason your 401k is tanked. While none of that is entirely true, it’s much easier to point at “that guy” and say he did it than to truly blame ourselves and our government.

  22. moore850 says:

    This administration is supposed to be about transparency. Transparency means saying what you know as soon as you know it. The parties responsible, all of them, need to be made aware that this is not like the last guy who apparently let anything slide. This time around, you WILL be held accountable and not in a slap-the-wrist way but in a “hey buddy, this is a recession, there are 500 guys and girls right now ready to do your job better than you” way.

  23. valueofaloonie says:

    I like buttons.

    As for the serious part, I feel like getting to the bottom of this is important, but that the ‘media circus’ is almost obscuring the real issue here.

  24. hi says:

    Obama didn’t vote for the AIG bailout, also he didn’t vote vote it. He voted “present”. You would think with all these speaches he gives about it he would have been against it and vote no. When will people start waking up and finding out what his agenda really is (which is the same agenda as the big banksters-one world bank-one world federal government).

  25. hi says:

    reply to my above comment(replies aren’t working for me): **Obama didn’t vote for the AIG bailout, also he didn’t vote for it.

  26. balthisar says:

    Everyone understands that it’s inconsequential to the grand scheme of things, monetarily speaking, but it’s a great opportunity to stir up populist resentment, and of course our populist leadership wants to take advantage of that.

  27. processfive says:

    Figuring out what happened is not really important to helping us get the economy back on track.

    However, it will be very important in about three years, when we’re deciding whether or not the people who let it happen are the kind of people who should be running our country.

  28. Big Poppa Pimp says:

    The real scandal here is that Congress voted for a bill spending 787 billion dollars and the President signed it without knowing what was in it (or so they claim). And then they have the audacity to be outraged by the provisions they voted for. This bill was so rushed that they had to fly a Senator in after a funeral to get the vote done before the American people could decipher any of what was in it. The President then took four days of vacation time before signing it. Perhaps he was watching college basketball, but he evidently either did not bother reading it or is lying. I assume it is a combination of both. There were articles in February talking about how the President was unhappy with the executive compensation provisions inserted by Senator Dodd at the last minute.

  29. wgrune says:

    @moore850

    Your error came in when you assumed this administration would be any different than any other administration in recent history.

    Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss. I guess we did get fooled again.

  30. Citizen Kang says:

    @Ninja007:

    Actually, isn’t this Bush’s, Paulson’s, and Bernanke’s baby? They were the one’s who proposed this way back in October (or thereabouts…it seems so long ago) before Obama was even elected in November. At most, he had one vote in the Senate at the time so I think it’s fair to say the people I mentioned had far more influence than Obama. If I’m wrong, let me know, but that’s what I recall.

    • Ninja007 says:

      @Citizen Kang: yes you are wrong. Obama went on national television to push this thru. All Republicans voted against this bill. Dodd was the one who put the loophole in allowing the bonuses. This is not Bush’ fault. Get your facts straight.

      • Citizen Kang says:

        @Ninja007:

        I do hate using Wikipedia for reference, but they tend to get dates correct so here we go. According to their website, TARP (of which AIG was one of the recipients) was approved on October which meant that Bush was still president and Obama was just a Senator:

        “The authority of the United States Department of the Treasury to establish and manage TARP under a newly created Office of Financial Stability became law October 3, 2008, the result of an initial proposal that ultimately was passed by Congress as H.R. 1424, enacting the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 and several other acts”

        A number of people went on television pushing for the bill foremost among them Bush, Paulson, and Bernanke. The only reason Obama was asked his opinion was because he was running for office, but at the end of the day he had just 1 vote among 100. That is beyond dispute. All my facts are correct. Which one of my facts do you think is not in order? I never disputed Dodd’s role in the loophole nor did I dispute that most Republicans did not vote for the bill; they’d preferred to debate or fiddle as Rome burned. How was it not Bush’s fault? I’ve given my facts and reasoning. Where are yours? From where I’m sitting your arguments seem pretty thin.

      • Pixelantes Anonymous says:

        @Ninja007: Actually, you are wrong.

        There are several AIG bailouts. The three first ones were decided prior to Obama’s presidency with no involvement whatsoever from him, or the Congress, and quite likely no direct involvement from the Bush Administration either. It was all the Federal Bank’s doing.

        Before you start spouting more ignorance, please go read this:

        [en.wikipedia.org]

        Read chapters 2.2 and 2.3 in particular.

        AIG had already received roughly $160B before 2009. A large percentage of that money was also already used by 2009.

        Furthermore, all current payments to AIG are bound by whatever agreements made with the different bailout packages. It is, of course, possible to change those after-the-fact, but it wouldn’t do a whole bunch of good given that almost all the money promised has already been spent.

        • Ninja007 says:

          @Pixelantes Anonymous: Wikipedia is not always the best source of information. Even Democratic senators are blaming Obama for the AIG bonuses: [www.bloomberg.com]

          • Pixelantes Anonymous says:

            @Ninja007: Ok, well, you know, they can blame anyone they want, but if the friggin’ money was passed over to AIG BEFORE Obama’s presidency, it’s kinda hard to blame the guy about it, wouldn’t you agree?

        • ADismalScience says:

          @Pixelantes Anonymous:

          The TARP bill’s payments are not relevant to this discussion, which is about AIG bonus payments. Christopher Dodd amendment to the stimulus bill providing for a contractual “locking in” of bonus payments on contracts agreed prior to Feb 11, 2009 is.

      • Cattivella says:

        @Ninja007: Actually, Dodd put it in under direction from a Obama administration official. He won’t name the official.

  31. Anonymous says:

    While it is really just a sideshow i think the point that comes across is that they’re at least TRYING to make people accountable for their actions. Even if they’re miserably failing when it comes to that.

  32. Plates says:

    This is just more political kabuki theatre done to distract the attention away from the Fannie bonuses, since they were major campaign contributors to the current regime.

  33. BreadBoy says:

    Has everyone forgotten that the AIG mess has been going on for nearly a year, yet out president has only been president for a little over 2 months. I thing the new administration is doing a remarkable job. Don’t forget that the contractual bonus’ were put in place when AIG knew they were in trouble. The Bush administration authorized billions for AIG before Obama was even elected.

    Please do revise history to make this the fault of the Obama administration.

    • Big Poppa Pimp says:

      @BreadBoy: Are you comfortable that Obama did not read the bill before he voted for it? Assuming that you believe him when he says that he did not know about these bonuses. It was in the text of the bill for everyone who cared to read it. There is now way Bush could be responsible for the bill provision protecting these bonuses. All we ask is that you put the kool-aid down and assess this honestly.

  34. PunditGuy says:

    Where’d the assumption for the headline come from? Where’s the story link? The administration has said that it just found out about the bonuses on the 5th of this month. [www.huffingtonpost.com]

    What I’ve read says the Fed knew about this, but didn’t share with the White House.

  35. akiddo says:

    Does everyone miss the “retention” qualifier in front of the word bonus. These weren’t performance based bonuses, and thus they can be judged based on the performance of the organization or the individual. These bonuses might as well be considered salary. The only requirements was to remain employed at the organization until a specific date. The individuals did that and they got paid. End of story.

    Of course it still looks bad, but these contracts were signed before the bailout money started flowing, and they obviously worked to keep people on the job. Things could have been much worse if good people started quitting the company when things went south. Many companies use signing bonuses and retention bonuses to attain and keep good people. In the big picture it is much cheaper than a fixed salary increase, and in some cases cheaper than finding a skilled/knowledgeable replacement.

  36. Big Poppa Pimp says:

    @Citizen Kang: The opponents of the bill were reduced to begging for more time to debate the bill containing these provisions and were told repeatedly to stand down and that the bill was considered “read” and ready to be voted. Those orders came straight from the White House. We had “no time to waste” but apparently tons of money to waste. Blaming Bush (and his last days certainly were filled with mistakes) is no longer an option. We need to hold our leaders accountable whether or not we voted for them. You should be outraged at what is either a massive deception or, at a bare minimum, gross negligence by Obama.

    • Citizen Kang says:

      @Big Poppa Pimp:

      As I recall, Bush was still in the White House on October 3, 2008 when the bill passed. If it came straight from the White House that the bill was “read” and ready to be voted as you stated, wouldn’t it be the fault of the guy sitting in the White House: George W. Bush?

      • ADismalScience says:

        @Citizen Kang:

        The relevant passage was in the stimulus bill, not the TARP bill. The stimulus bill was drafted and approved by a Democratic Congress and signed by a Democratic president. Three Republicans voted for the bill in the Senate to secure passage and during “concurrence.” I don’t feel like collating the voting record of House Republicans, which were majority opposed:

        [www.votesmart.org]

        AIG bonuses were signed by Congress, sealed by Nancy Pelosi and Chris Dodd, and delivered by Barack Obama.

  37. unpolloloco says:

    This administration responds well to citizen issues – but only after they are brought into the open – In other words, they cant do their jobs, but can do quite the charade to make people think that they can.

  38. Ubik2501 says:

    In monetary terms, the bonus issue is unimportant, but in symbolic terms it has a lot of pull: It points to the vast lack of accountability and transparency that lets the executive sector do just about anything it likes to make profits, while those working for them would have their feet put to the flames for the same thing.

    Unfortunately, this is being made into a media circus and a witch hunt that’s distracting from the real issue of fixing the economy, and just giving people more political shit to fling at each other. AIG and Congress (both sides of the aisle, by the way) both share culpability in the economic disaster, and it’s short-sighted political grandstanding to argue otherwise.

  39. David Thatcher says:

    The bailout of AIG was never about AIG, it was about propping up AIG’s counterparties.

  40. Big Poppa Pimp says:

    @Citizen Kang: The only thing correct in this paragraph is that Bush was still in the White House on October 3, 2008. What that has to do with a bill signed in February 2009 is beyond me. The stimulus bill (I forget the Orwellian name) was signed in February 2009 and contained the provision protecting the bonuses of TARP fund recipients. Signed by Barack the Great. Does this change your opinion now?

    • MostlyHarmless says:

      @Big Poppa Pimp: You are totally confusing (i suspect deliberately) two different bills. The TARP, was passed in October and signed by Bush. Also, a number of republicans voted for it. The money AIG got orinigally was from TARP. All the subsequent bailouts to AIG were from The Fed, not from the Congress.

      What Obama signed was the stimulus bill, which did not have anything to do with the original bill.

      Get your facts straight. [Though that wouldnt do much good, considering you dont let facts stand in your way.]

      • Big Poppa Pimp says:

        @Lucifer_Cat: I am not sure if you are uninformed or trying to purposely trick people. I am not deliberately trying to confuse anybody. I suspect that you were not paying attention to the stimulus bill debate because you agreed with the gigantic expansion of government it will cause. As part of my job, I need to track executive compensation disclosure requirements and I am absolutely certain about the provisions of the Febuary bill. I am not talking about the bailout and I don’t care if any Republicans were stupid enough to vote for the February stimulus bill. For the third time, the Stimulus Bill contained the provision that protected bonuses contracted before February 11, 2009.
        here’s the text:

        “The prohibition required under clause (i) shall not be construed to prohibit any bonus payment required to be paid pursuant to a written employment contract executed on or before February 11, 2009, as such valid employment contracts are determined by the Secretary or the designee of the Secretary.”

        You need to start getting better informed. You owe me an apology for misjudging my motives and character. I suspect that you will not change your opinion now that you have been corrected. Do you believe that Obama is free of blame here?

  41. Trai_Dep says:

    Sigh. Too many false talking point to format nicely, so I’ll just blast ‘em out old-school:

    On MSNBC, Tucker Carlson rewrote history to blame Frank for mortgage crisis:
    [mediamatters.org]

    Time cites NRSC attack on Dodd over AIG bonuses without noting that several GOP senators reportedly opposed executive pay restrictions:
    [mediamatters.org]

    Fox, Drudge falsely assert Dodd put “bonus protections” into stimulus bill:
    [mediamatters.org]

    And, lose any money in your 401K? IRA? Investment accounts? Total it up in your head. Got it? Good.
    Now, compare that to the roughly $1 per US taxpayer this tempest/teapot issue will impact you.
    Then, keep your eye on the ball, a bit? :D

  42. Brant Gates says:

    “The AIG furor continues as it turns out Obama and Congress knew about the AIG bonuses for months but previously, on the advice of lawyers, felt powerless to stop them.”

    Sooo….on the advice of lawyers, they felt powerless? “Mr.President, members of Congress, we advise you to feel powerless, it is really the best option here.”

  43. kwsventures says:

    Obama, a typical Chicago political hack.

    Those in congress that approved giving billions to AIG with no oversight, no guidelines and without even reading the legislation they signed are now a bunch of pandering creeps “showing their outrage”. Please. Do us a favor and quit the congress right now. Do the right thing for once in your pandering life.

  44. Ninja007 says:

    @undefined: Lucifer the stimulus bill was the reason why AIG got the bonus. See this: [www.bloomberg.com]

    “The new law, approved by Congress Feb. 13 and signed into law by Obama the next week, effectively authorized bonus arrangements at companies receiving taxpayer bailouts as long as they were in place before Feb. 11. The AIG bonuses qualified under that provision.”

    see you are the one that is confused.

  45. RStui says:

    This whole mess comes from the slapped together, rushed to the printer history of the whole Bailout package. Congress was so interested in ACTING like they were helping that they threw the American public into the financial district like Caesar throwing Christians into the arena. No weapons, no way to get out, no way to win.

    This has been the problem from the start, and ALL of these “sideshow” moments has stemmed from that.

    So far as whether this is important, I think so, if only because it is yet another attempt by Congress to rush to conclusions in order to avoid addressing the problem.

    What the American public needs are:
    Congressional Term Limits
    Federal Oversight of Financial Vehicles
    Caps on Bonus Plans and Golden Parachutes for Financial Institutions
    and
    Swift and Defined Punishments for Unlawful or Reckless Lending

  46. jdhuck says:

    It’s the Obacalypse

  47. eatsshootsleaves says:

    ” Question for the audience: is figuring out what happened with the AIG bonuses fundamentally important to get the economy back on track, or is it just another media circus sideshow?”

    There are huge problems with the political system in Washington, with inequality, with the White House’s response to the banking crisis. This is such a minor part of all that that the ANGER is beginning to make me angry.

  48. Jevia says:

    Why would a company want to retain executives that made bad decisions and ran the company into the ground?

    I think a lot of the furor, whether the bonuses are paid or not, is that most Americans don’t get this kind of bonus and don’t understand why such exists. People are generally familiar with performance bonuses and holiday/year-end bonus when the company does well, but a bonus just for still being an employee when the company does badly? Who gets that? Apparently high level executives in huge companies do, who just sign off on their fraternity brothers’ contracts knowing their back is being scratched by other well-connected friends.

    If nothing else comes of this, hopefully it will wake Americans up that regardless of what some people say, there are two castes in this country, the rich, well- connected people, and the rest of us plebes.

    • whydidnt says:

      @Jevia:
      You need to understand that these bonuses aren’t just for executives. They are typically offered to many key employees when a company is looking to sell, or close down while preseving their assets. It happens in many industries, since without the bonus offer, good employees will jump ship as soon as a decent offer comes along and the company will be unable to obtain maximum value for it’s assets since no work wil get done. I’m not an executive, but was on the receiving end of such a bonus when my company considated 12 years ago. It was as good investment on their part because I turned down other opportunties to get the bonus, and without me and other “caring” co-workers, the company probably would have lost millions of dollars in revenue from clients that wouldn’t have properly been taken care of during the transtion.

      Unfortunately, many of us are sick of Congress spending our money on bailouts, and the Democrats have done a outstanding job of spinning this to further their “class war” agenda, to deflect attention from their decisions to continue funneling tax paying money into failing private enterprise.

      You seem to be one of the massess that has been reeeled in by the hype. The issue isn’t retention bonuses, the issue is our Government flushing billions of dollars into these organizations without even requiring a long term plan that would make them viable.

      • Jevia says:

        @whydidnt: Are you saying that AIG was already looking to sell or close down back when these contracts were written a year ago? If that’s the case, then why didn’t they just do so instead of asking for a taxpayer bailout?

        And maybe this country needs a little ‘class warfare.’ It sure isn’t the people earning $250,000 or more that are hurting the most right now. Maybe there’s really just something a little wrong with the top 10% of our country’s earners control 70% of the nation’s wealth (and the top 1% control 30%).

        • whydidnt says:

          @Jevia:
          Yes, that’s exactly what I’m saying. AIG was planning on selling these divisions to try and avoid bankruptcy. When they made that decision, they offered the retention bonuses to employees to stay on and help keep the business viable until a new owner was found. Before they found a buyer the entire house of cards collapsed and the bailout (which I was against by the way) took place. The government decided it was important that AIG survive rather than file bankruptcy. AIG is still trying to sell these assets and you may be surpised to learn that many of the retention bonuses are going to folks that make less than 250k a year so your anger is misguided.

          Just be careful what you wish for – “Class Warfare” is how communists in Russia, China and Cuba all came to power. I think most would agree that in all these cases the masses ended up worse off. If you remove the incentive from people working to better themselves and improve their lot in life, you remove their incentive to be productive, contributing members of society. Why should I bust my ass to improve my families finances if the government takes all I work for and gives it to someone else who doesn’t have same motiviation?

          If one is jealous of those wealthier than themselves, than they should figure out what they have to do to get into that position, rather than figure a way to drag everyone down to their level, don’t you think.

          Don’t tell me it’s not possible. Obama came from a meager background and is now President of the country. Most anything is possible if your willing to sacrafice for your goals. Sadly, too many of us would prefer somebody else does the work.

  49. whytee says:

    The bonuses are just window dressing. The underlying problem is that wall street has too much power over washington. That’s why the two predominant political parties don’t have the will to do what must be done and will eventually be done — a total reining in of Wall Street’s deregulatory excesses, including taking AIG and the other zombies into receivership.

    • whydidnt says:

      @whytee:
      Exactly what recent government actions makes you think that the goverment could even remotely come close to running AIG or any other business in a better fashion? The government’s desire to “do something fast” is coming very close to bankrupting the country.

      It’s funny when people talk about deregulation, they forget that regulation can run two directions. The government can regulate by telling you not to do something – “don’t make risky mortgage loans”. They can also regulate by telling you to do something “Loosen your credit and down payment guidelines so more lower income people can buy houses”. Guess which form of regulation is a key component of our current meltdown – the government instructing FNMA and FHLMC to find more ways to lend money to people who couldn’t necessarily afford to pay it back.

      I always have to chuckle when I hear the Obama line about needing more regulation, when it’s “more regulation” that got us, at least part way into this mess.

      • orlo says:

        @whydidnt: There were regulations regarding mortgage eligibility. The government loosed the regulations. Banks had nice profits for a while, until they didn’t. That chuckling you hear is the sound an idiot makes.

  50. runswithscissors says:

    Important to fixing the economy? No.

    Important to our sense of there being some tiny shred of justice left in this world? Yes.

    Going after the bonuses is the legal, non-violent version of punching these execs in the nuts for what they did.

  51. Nakko says:

    I’m concerned that my vote will be misinterpreted as that I like web-page radio button selections, when in reality I mean that I like buttons as in fasteners for clothing. These are the buttons I like.

  52. Stream Of Consciousness says:

    How about an A) and B) option??

  53. whitjm5 says:

    @ basilray:

    Word.

  54. humphrmi says:

    No worries, Obama and SecTres may have known about these blasted bonuses last year, but now IRS is going to recover those darn bonuses. The economy is saved!

  55. Michael Wilson says:

    There will be transparency in my administration. Oops, scratch that…..

    There will be no lobbyists in my administration. Um, well, let’s forget about that for now…..

    I’ll go through each bill line by line, item by item. We’ll, that’s not so practical so let’s just forget about that shall we….

    Yes sire folks, that’s Change WeCan Deceive In!

    Sucka’s

  56. Jevia says:

    I’m not saying we have to go communist, but a little more socialism couldn’t hurt. Granted, they are not perfect, but France does a pretty good job of looking out for the lower and middle classes, at least better than the US does, imo. Yes, they do give up a lot of the consumerism that goes on in the US (none of my friends and family there own big flat screen TVs and most only one computer and one TV), but they have pretty decent healthcare, subsidized child care, free education through 3 years post-highschool (and better, imo), and better unemployment.

    I know plenty of people that work very hard, 2 and 3 jobs, but due to various circumstances, can’t get ahead. Working hard does not automatically equal getting to the top. A lot of luck and connections are involved as well. Some have it, but a lot don’t. Obama did have some luck. He got into Harvard. Not everyone does, even those that work hard.

  57. baristabrawl says:

    I don’t think it has anything to do with generating a media circus. I think it has to do with the “why” of it all. I’m pissed off that you are rewarded for poor performance. It’s like kids these days…why do you get a trophy for 15th place?

    Ug.

  58. HeartBurnKid, creepy morbid freak says:

    It’s not important in and of itself, but because of what it represents. For too long, we have watched top executives destroy companies with shortsighted, horrible management, get a big fat bonus, and go on to fuck up another business. That kind of attitude has brought us the economy of FAIL we have today.

    This is the time where we must stand and say, “No more.”

  59. amandakerik says:

    It’s both.

    It makes them look like they’re “human” and aligned with the public. Gov’t has corporate hand up it’s puppet tush and has had it there for decades.

    Yes, they’ve know about it for a while, I’d say the more intelligent of them knew about it before Obama was sworn in. They could have pushed for strings and regulations. They didn’t.

    It’s all a game and the average American is at best in the peanut gallery and at worst either part of it or just on the sidelines.

    Add in that the media doesn’t, by law, have to have any part of their reporting as actual verifiable fact… There’s a LOT of lying going on.

    To be blunt, if you’re in America and want to know what’s actually going on, pay attention to international news coverage of your beautiful country; and the coverage of everywhere else.