Rep. Manzullo Calls for Kashkari's Resignation
Rep. Donald Manzullo (D-Ill.) just wrapped up a long and aggressive attack on Treasury official Neel Kashkari, the man in charge of doling out the $700 billion bailout/rescue plan.
Manzullo ended by calling for Kashkari's resignation because Manzullo accused him of being out of touch with common people.
Manzullo was like a dog with a bone on the following issue: A departing executive of insurance giant AIG -- now propped up by $125 billion in taxpayer money and 80-percent owned by the government -- is getting a $3 million bonus.
It was a golden opportunity for Manzullo to engage in some populist demagoguery as he repeatedly tried to get Kashkari to say that $3 million is too big of a bonus to pay to an executive of a "failing institution."
In the bailout legislation, companies receiving government bailout money are prohibited from granting executives "excessive" compensation. That language was purposefully left open to retain and recruit good executives.
And, of course, Congress wrote that language in the bailout legislation. And it is not Kashkari's job or probably even appropriate for him to comment on how big of a bonus is too much.
But Manzullo wanted his prize and he wouldn't relent until Kashkari gave some blood. But it still wasn't enough for Manzullo. Here are the highlights of the harangue:
Manzullo (his voice rising): "Is $3 million too much? Yes or no?"
Kashkari: "Congressman, I don't have the details..."
Manzullo (interrupting, now yelling): "I want to hear a yes or no! I represent a city [Rockford] that has 11.3 percent unemployment, where the median income is $41,000. Is $3 million too much?"
Kashkari: "It is excessive for a failing institution, yes."
Manzullo (still yelling): "Are you going to ask for the money back, yes or no?"
Kashkari: "I don't know the details of the bonus..."
Manzullo: "That's the bonus! Are you going to ask for it back?"
Kashkari: "Again, Mr. Congressman, I don't know..."
Manzullo: "We can't relate to you in your world. I don't know where you come from or what people you deal with on a day-to-day basis. When you sit there and not take a position as to whether or not a $3 million bonus for a failed company is excessive...perhaps you're not the right person for the job. Perhaps you don't understand the situation at all. Maybe one of my community bankers should be put in your position."
Kashkari: "May I answer?"
Manzullo: "I don't think you understand all the pain and hurting going on in this country. People are on the verge of losing their jobs and you can sit there and not come to a decision as to whether a $3 million bonus is too much....Based on your answer, I think you should step aside."
December 10, 2008; 2:57 PM ET
Categories: The Ticker | Tags: Donald Manzullo, Neel Kashkari
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