The country is all abuzz about the Arrogance of AIG. To have paid out approximately $165 Million in “retention bonuses” after being bailed out to the tune of about $170 Billion takes some real guts, or arrogance. Really?
The bonuses that Congress (and in particular Democrats in Congress) find so offensive are the very ones that were exempted from restrictions on pay in the Stimulus Bill passed in such a hurry last month. Senator Chris Dodd, a Democrat from Connecticut and Chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, amended the Stimulus Bill to restrict the salaries and bonuses paid to “bailed-out” companies. Included in his amendment was an “exception for contractually obligated bonuses agreed on before Feb. 11, 2009.” It is assumed that he did this to ensure that the companies had the tools necessary to keep the people most important to guiding the companies back to financial health. Without the ability to give bonuses to key individuals, it is likely that the most capable people would have left the sinking ships.
To hear Chris Dodd today, he is aghast at these very bonuses and wants them stopped. Either he has a very short memory, or he is a hypocrite of the first order, or, someone changed his amendment. If someone did change his amendment (and you can bet it wasn’t a Republican since they have no power with which to pull off a trick like that)it is still the fault of the President and the Democrats in Congress who forced the bill through before anyone had time to read it.
To top it off, during lasts year’s election cycle, Chris Dodd received more money than any other candidate from, you guessed it, AIG. You could consider the $103,000 AIG donated to Mr. Dodd, as his bonus. Until the public became recently enraged at AIG, it looks like their “bonus” to Mr. Dodd was a wise investment, far wiser than many other investments that the company made.
Who do you think got the second highest sum from AIG in last year’s elections. Barrack Obama received $101,000. To be fair, AIG hedged its bets and gave $60,000 to John McCain (third highest on their list of bonusees) and $36,000 to Hillary Clinton (fourth highest on the bonus list).
I’m still convinced that the Stimulus Bill was rushed through so that special favors like this could be passed without ample time for the public to respond. I have serious doubts that Mr. Obama or Mr. Dodd will ever fess up to any of this. Is anyone asking Mr. Obama and Mr. Dodd to give back their bonuses like they want the AIG Execs to do? Is anyone chastising Congress for mishandling this whole thing. Actually, yes. Regarding who might have removed the bonus ban, even Huffington Post said, “And, so far, no one in the administration of a president who promised that transparency would be a “touchstone” of his presidency has demanded that whoever killed the provision step forward and own up to it.” In other words, in front of the TV cameras, everyone is crying foul and yelling at the evil executives from AIG. Away from the cameras they aren’t even interested enough to look into who might have made a change to their bill.
Is it possible that nobody changed it but it makes a good story/alibi? Is it possible that this might have been caught if Members of Congress had had time to read the bill they were in such a hurry to pass?