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Totally Unfair and Completely Unbalanced

AIG: Are you SURE this was the first you knew about bonuses, Mr. Geithner?

Chris Dodd wasn't about to take the fall for Tim Geithner's insistence on softening the bonus language in the bailout bill. Parody of a Maltese Falcon movie poster

Coming to a Congressional Hearing Near You

Well, this HAS been an interesting week. The news about the AIG bonuses broke late Saturday, early Sunday. The liberal bloggers picked up on it immediately, but the conservative bloggers didn’t touch it until Tuesday. Evidently, they don’t read the liberal blogs and had to wait for someone else to digest it and hand them a party line. The moderates joined in and there was a firestorm of protest, best summed up by Chuck Grassley as a general demand for resignations or hara-kiri. Personally, I’d like someone to leave a gun on their desks and tell them to “do the right thing,” but what can I say, I’m an anglophile. Obama said he hadn’t heard about the bonuses until a few days before the s**t hit the fan. Tim Geithner said he’d only heard a few days before that. HOWEVER, Ron Wyden revealed that when the bailout bill passed the Senate, there was a strong provision putting caps on executive bonuses for companies being bailed out. It wasn’t there when it hit the House. As Rita Rudner once put it, where did the glue go? Treasury tries to put the blame on Chris Dodd, claiming he added a clause granting exemptions for bonus agreements already in place. But what REALLY happened, as Jane Hamsher has documented is that Dodd et al had inserted a provision placing caps retroactively on executive compensation…and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Lawrence Summers, head of the National Economic Council, put pressure on Dodd to remove or seriously weaken this provision. And Senator Dodd pointed the finger straight back at Geithners–who, you will remember claimed like Sergeant Schultz, “I knew nuzzing, NUZZING!” Obama then said, in one of his less-than-sterling statements, that the administration will use every legal means to try to recoup these bonuses–which have already been paid. Well, hell, Barack, did you think we expected you to use ILLEGAL means?
Obama’s appointment of Tim Geithner to head the Treasury was an iffy deal to begin with. The charismatic young president’s strong points do not include economics and Geithner’s appointment seemed an attempt to look like he was putting one of the adults in charge. After all, a banker should know about banking, right? It also looked like a safe place to put an opposing viewpoint. Well, Mr. Geithner has just demonstrated that his loyalties run with the banking community, not with the people of the US, and his appointment, far from placing one of the adults in charge, actually was putting one of the foxes in charge of the henhouse. It is time for Mr. Obama to reconsider this appointment. No, screw that, it’s time to ask for Timmy’s resignation. Geithner was going to follow a timid course, the tried-and-true, which in this situation is neither tried nor true. Let’s get someone like Paul Krugman in place so we can get an economic policy with balls, not cronyism.
Oh and AIG has decided on a new strategy to save the company. It’s changing its name…
Check out Glenn Greenwald’s Salon column on this for more information on the legal ramifications of the AIG stink.
BTW I think Timmy Geithner makes an excellent Brigid O’Shaunessy–he’s about as honest, dontcha think?

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AIG: Robbing Us Blind to Preserve the American Way of Life

As a crook wearing a Dept of the Treasure shirt, robs a line of taxpayers, he hands the money to the AIG Bonus Fairy, who then gives it out to the top executives..

And guess whose pockets the money is coming out of...

Friends, by now you know the story. Uncle Moneybags has given $170 Bn to AIG to prevent them from going under because of mismanagement. They in turn are paying bonuses to the very executives who mismanaged them in the first place. They say they’re contractually obligated. Well, if they’d gone bankrupt, these same executives wouldn’t have gotten a dime.
They don’t get it. They just–don’t–get it. They really don’t understand that we’re no longer in “business as usual mode.” That they can’t buy expensive drapes or parchment wastebaskets on the taxpayer’s nickel. But–I’m owed this money–it’s in my contract. Jumpin’ Jehosophat, didn’t it ever occur to the lawyers who drew up these contracts to write in–”If the company tanks, no bonuses will be paid”? Even if AIG didn’t go bankrupt, why should anyone want to pay these guys for screwing up so bad? In the words of one dope earlier this year, “Well, if we don’t pay our best people, we won’t be able to keep them.” Best people??? You want to keep these jerks? No, let them join the ranks of the unemployed. Let them suffer the utter humiliation of driving to the unemployment office in last year’s BMW. “Well,” said the lawyers, “if we don’t pay them, we might be subject to litigation.” Let ‘em sue. You say, “the government of the United States gave us orders not to pay these bonuses.” Then let them sue the US Government.
But you say–it’s only a couple of hundred million–compared to the $170 BILLION we bailed them out with, that’s a drop in the bucket. True, but that’s not the point. It’s the principle of the thing–people shouldn’t be paid for screwing up. If you pay a plumber to unstop your drain, and he fixes it by removing the clogged pipe and letting the water out all over the floor, are you going to pay him? Hell, no–he screwed up. So why then should these dopes be rewarded for crashing our economy? And why should it be US that pays them. The kind of reward these guys really deserve cannot be expressed on a general audience website, but I have it on good authority that Pongo and his gorilla buddies are all hot to give it to them.
(NY TIMES) Bracing for a Bailout Backlash
(NY TIMES) A.I.G. Lists the Banks to Which It Paid Rescue Funds
(WashPost) Millions in AIG bonuses draw chorus of outrage
(Reuters via WashPost) Millions in AIG bonuses ignite bipartisan fire
(AP via WashPost) Frank assails bonuses paid to executives at AIG

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