Monday, March 16, 2009

Suburban Mom's Political Fix: AIG Bonuses: 'How Do They Justify This Outrage?'

On the subject of the obscenity that is the $165 million in bonuses AIG handed out to executives this weekend -- particularly given that U.S. taxpayers own 80 percent of the company after shoveling $170 billion into it to keep it afloat -- President Barack Obama is finally singing the same tune the rest of us were singing when we learned about the bonuses to which the company said it was contractually obligated to pay.

The president, who seems to be have taken on an overly ambitious agenda, said in a statement today that this an "outrage:"

"This is a corporation that finds itself in financial distress due to recklessness and greed. Under these circumstances, it's hard to understand how derivative traders at AIG warranted any bonuses, much less $165 million in extra pay. How do they justify this outrage to the taxpayers who are keeping the company afloat?

. . . This isn't just a matter of dollars and cents. It's about our fundamental values. All across the country, there are people who work hard and meet their responsibilities every day, without the benefit of government bailouts or multi-million dollar bonuses. And all they ask is that everyone from Main Street to Wall Street to Washington, play by the same rules. That is an ethic we must demand."

The president said he's ordered the Treasury secretary to do everything he could to "block these bonuses." Administration officials also made the rounds on the Sunday talk show circuit and espoused the same line that this is an outrage. White House economic advisor Larry Summers echoed the president, using the same word "outrageous" to describe the bonuses while on ABC this weekend, but then made excuses by saying that a contractual obligation is a contractual obligation.

If this is indeed such an outrage, shouldn't those AIG folks who accepted billions in public dollars be morally obliged to the taxpayers first, instead of engaging in excuse-making, saying that their contracts, signed under vastly different conditions, should be honored? (The contracts wouldn't even be able to be honored but for the taxpayer money.)

Meanwhile, all across the country, groups of employees are taking voluntary furloughs (sometimes involuntary) in order to avoid layoffs. So why shouldn't those AIG employees who received the bonuses be shamed into NOT accepting that money? Or forced to give it back? What am I not getting here?

1 comment:

Wright said...

There needs to be some acceptance of responsibility by the many people who are looking for their peice of the pie (some larger than others). From unions to big Wall Street bonus contracts, these payments, big and small need to be renegotiated to a smaller, reasonable amount. Greed is no longer good.