Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity

AIG Bonus Babies

The AIG moment feels like a big one. Public distaste for both the Bush and Obama administrations' handling of the financial crisis seems to be crystallizing in response to the reports of bonuses for executives at the AIG financial products subsidiary, whose derivatives trading helped contribute to AIG’s bankruptcy.

Well, the executives had contracts, we’re told. The firm would risk a lawsuit not to pay up.

Really? Can't risk a lawsuit! A fine business like AIG would never do that! Shareholders have been wiped out, tens of thousands of people have lost their jobs directly or indirectly because of AIG's activities, taxpayers are out tens of billions -- but it would be too hard to change those promised bonus payments, even though the promises were of course made in very different circumstances?

What’s more -- AIG says it won't be able to retain talented staff "if employees believe their compensation is subject to continued and arbitrary adjustment by the U.S. Treasury.” Sure. Those employees would be snapped up -- there's a boom market right now for derivatives traders! And certainly no one else in the U.S. has had his compensation "subject to continued and arbitrary adjustment" by their employers -- no else in the country has had to take pay cuts, forego promised bonuses, and the like!

Can capitalism survive the behavior of some capitalists? It's always been an open question. But if capitalism is to survive, shouldn't the Republican party, the party that defends democratic capitalism, be particularly vehement in denouncing its excesses? Isn't this a pretty spectacular one? And isn’t this a moment for the GOP to separate itself from the Bush administration as well as the Obama administration, who together have been responsible for an incompetent and improvident bailout? Figuring out the right policy going forward with respect to toxic assets and the rest is, of course, a major intellectual task. But being on the side of a healthy populist reaction to the AIG situation is at least a good political start.

By William Kristol  | March 16, 2009; 10:25 AM ET
Categories:  Kristol  | Tags:  William Kristol  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Who Is Pandering Here?
Next: Obama Should Be Gutsier on Guantanamo


You mean the GOP should separate itself from Obama by... attempting to co-opt Obama's insistence that bailout recipients should abandon lavish salaries and bonuses?

Posted by: Potter2 | March 16, 2009 10:49 AM | Report abuse

Since when do you keep people honest, Mr. Kristol?

You've been wrong every time.

This was brought on by the Conservatives of the GOP, including yourself.

Posted by: vigor | March 16, 2009 10:51 AM | Report abuse

If it wasn't for the bailout money they would have any bonuses to payout. If the govt. didn't step in, they would be in BK court and good luck trying to justify owed bonuses over shareholders and creditors. This is sickening.

Posted by: leetn | March 16, 2009 10:52 AM | Report abuse

Um if you remember correctly Bill (BTW is the Washington Post picking up the NYtimes trash or something)The Democrats wanted there to be a no bonus clause in the TARP bill...but YOUR party and YOUR president denied the request.

Posted by: Beka13 | March 16, 2009 10:56 AM | Report abuse

What does the Post see in Kristol? He was fired by the NY Times. That's not surprising either, based on the insight-free column above. Boycott the Post until Kristol is dumped. Dollars are probably the only thing the Post management cares about.

Posted by: hairguy01 | March 16, 2009 10:56 AM | Report abuse

Hey now, lets call the truth where we see it. I bow to no man in my distaste for Kristols politics, but I think what he wrote here was the truth. And I know thats the first time Ive ever written that.

Now, its too little too late from the Republicans, Kristol knows this and is trying to re-position Republicans to ride the anti-stimulus backlash, but thats Politics 101. He's right in principle, this AIG business is appalling. Good for him for saying so, Machiavellian motives or not.

Posted by: MDD1 | March 16, 2009 11:02 AM | Report abuse

It must be nice to belong to a political party like the GOP that never has to own up to any of its failures. Like a snake shedding its old skin all the Republican Party has do once it has brought the country to the brink of ruin, according to Kristol, is to renounce its old self so that it can be reborn free from all past sin. Even better, as Newt Gingrich is trying to do with his clever "Bush-Obama Big Government" continuity of policy meme, if you can blame your failures on your opponents.

Posted by: TedFrier | March 16, 2009 11:08 AM | Report abuse

Oh I get it Bill. The TARP, void of no bonus conditions, brought to us by Bush, GOP and Paulson, amounts to Obama administration incompetency. Lets try to be truer to the facts and not such a GOP homer...for your sake.

Posted by: tmurchi | March 16, 2009 11:11 AM | Report abuse

Wow! What a courageous and thoughtful stance, Bill Kristol! You're really out ahead of the curve on this one!

I guess, given the choice of either being catastrophically wrong about every issue, or vaguely, tardily, and unproductively in sync with populist thought, Mr. Kristol should take the best option available to him. But I continue to be amazed that this man is paid for his opinions. I'm thinking the Post would do better to hire an infinite number of monkeys, if only they could find enough typewriters...

Posted by: eyeswideopen2 | March 16, 2009 11:12 AM | Report abuse

Kristol continues to be blinded by his arrogance. You cannot lay this at the feet of a two month old administration.

The GOP will never own up to their culpability in this fiasco. Kritol's chiding of AIG is so hollow and pointless.

And to the Washington Post - No Kristol. OK.

Posted by: aguirretile | March 16, 2009 11:15 AM | Report abuse

I wonder where Bill Kristol determined that public opinion is against what the Obama administration is doing. I don't think sitting in a hot tub and sipping Chablis with George Will, Fred Barnes and the Fox "News" Washington bureau is exactly the most scientific way of determining what the public thinks. Come to think of it, though, that IS how The Washington Post reporting and commentary staff reaches conclusions, isn't it?

Posted by: greenm1 | March 16, 2009 11:17 AM | Report abuse

Wow, who would have guessed I'd see the day that Kristol became a populist?!?!?!?!?!?!?

I have faith that people will see Kristol's new-found populism for what it is...a cheap political trick.

Posted by: freddigby | March 16, 2009 11:20 AM | Report abuse

I like this article. I find it refreshing that Mr. Kristol applies the same standards that the does to other constituencies to his own.

Posted by: jhadv | March 16, 2009 11:20 AM | Report abuse

What happened? Who consistently supported George W. Bush and his policies? Who supported Alan Greenspan's 'free market' policies?

Who but Phil Gramm told us we were 'whiners'?

Why the sudden turnaround?

Who signed that letter to President Clinton, encouraging his military action against Saddam Hussein and Iraq "to protect our vital interests in the Gulf. In any case?"

Elliott Abrams Richard L. Armitage William J. Bennett

Jeffrey Bergner John Bolton Paula Dobriansky

Francis Fukuyama Robert Kagan Zalmay Khalilzad

William Kristol Richard Perle Peter W. Rodman

Donald Rumsfeld William Schneider, Jr. Vin Weber

Paul Wolfowitz R. James Woolsey Robert B. Zoellick

Posted by: bnca | March 16, 2009 11:24 AM | Report abuse

Handing out bonuses on the taxpayers dime no problem. They shouldn't get a dime above their already inflated salaries for jobs that could have more performed much more efficiently for less to be sure. They still don't get it, "we "own" them", what a deal!

Posted by: rgentile | March 16, 2009 11:27 AM | Report abuse

I almost never agree with this guy, but I share Bill's view on this one. Failure should not be rewarded. There needs to be accountability in the private sector for ruining the lives of so many, and now drawing in the public sector to fix their mess.

Keep encouraging your crowd, Bill. I hope your take on this begins to take hold.

Posted by: HillRat | March 16, 2009 11:35 AM | Report abuse

The GOP won't because it's beholden to failed policies and medieval science. Come on, the "odds-on" favorite for 2012 (Romney) REALLY believes the earth is 6000 years old.

If other members of this idiot party will let that ignorance slide, why would they even question a more subtle but still-as-stupid position such as backing a free-for-all" market?

Posted by: vze2r3k5 | March 16, 2009 11:41 AM | Report abuse

The other ironic thing is that the fools who ruined the planets economy are considered "talent" that must be compensated or else?

At this point, I think anyone could do their job for free.

Posted by: Beka13 | March 16, 2009 11:41 AM | Report abuse

Absolutely correct, Bill. And after the GOP starts supporting "no bonus" bailouts, the next populous move to protect Capitalism from itself would be for them to support caps on executive compensation - maybe at the old 40-to-1 ratio with the lowest paid employee. Then it will be a short step to do the one thing that would best save Detroit and make all our exports more competitive: remove healthcare costs from the employer's books by switching to a single-payer plan.

Actually, what he's suggesting is the first move back to the sort of Republican Party we had just after WWII, with liberal Republicans like Dewey and Eisenhower gaining the presidential nominations. It's probably the most we'll hear ol' Bill admit he was wrong. But heck, Alan Greenspan already has...

Posted by: dj333 | March 16, 2009 12:01 PM | Report abuse

What? The same Kristol that has sputtering fits at the mere suggestion of regulating companies like AIG, now decides that it would be politically advantageous to lead an AIG lynching party?

NEVER trust a Republican.


Posted by: DEFJAX | March 16, 2009 12:02 PM | Report abuse

It is a weird, weird day when I find my self agreeing with William Kristol. I better check my medication.

Posted by: SuperPants | March 16, 2009 12:08 PM | Report abuse

Bill your article makes no sense to me. Why do you need to come out and say your party should be out in front of this? Are the people in your party that stupid to have to be told to be mad at AIG and what they are doing? One would just assume that would be a no brainer. However, after the past 8 years, maybe not.

Bill, would this not be a great issue for both parties to come together on. Why can't both parties actually do something to bring back confidence to the people of the country? Would that not help out a lot?
Have a nice day...

Posted by: lagwagon | March 16, 2009 12:12 PM | Report abuse

Holy moly I agree 100% with Kristol. He11 just froze over.

Posted by: Wadsworth1 | March 16, 2009 12:19 PM | Report abuse

Here's what I don't understand. Why is the GOP taking the blame for the TARP bailout? If anyone actually looked at the votes issued by Congress, you'll find that most Republicans and a few blue dog Democrats all voted AGAINST the TARP.

Yes, it was GW who supported it, but Republicans, as a group, generally did not want a bailout of any kind.

Please get your facts straight.

Posted by: dwdm | March 16, 2009 12:26 PM | Report abuse

Horse$4it. This is a non issue and this tripe will only sideline the actual issue. How they spent the money is their issue. If they were offered the money with a set of rules on how they could or could not use it then they might or might not have accepted it. If they have contractual obligations then they live up to them. The issue here is not how they spent the money it's that they got the money in the first place.

Posted by: Hydrox | March 16, 2009 12:26 PM | Report abuse

AIG bonuses with taxpayer funds is a test for Obama.

So far, he's failing the test.

Posted by: postfan1 | March 16, 2009 12:29 PM | Report abuse

Obama has been a disgrace. The sleaze just oozes out of his administration. I am ashamed of my vote.

Posted by: shoveit | March 16, 2009 12:42 PM | Report abuse

I agree with a lot of what you say, Mr. Kristol, especially the populist outrage part. I don't paint Bush and Obama with the same brush though. Bush played Santa Claus with taxpayer money, having no problem with million dollar bonuses to the "masters of the universe." Where would we be without such self-serving talent? Obama appears to be the one asking questions about where exactly this money is going. Last I knew, bankrupt companies couldn't afford million dollar bonuses, contractually bound or otherwise. What kind of capitalism rewards people for running the company into the ground? I can't blame an exec for asking for this kind of compensation but I blame a lot of people for giving it to them. Move over Reagan. Your "welfare queen" with her "pink cadillac" has nothing on these parasites.

Posted by: SarahBB | March 16, 2009 12:52 PM | Report abuse

How snarky pundits like yourself have any credibility simply amazes me.

Posted by: hmmmmmer | March 16, 2009 12:55 PM | Report abuse

I agree with William Kristol. There, I said it. I never thought I would say such a thing but there it is. The old saying that "even a stopped clock is right twice a day" probably applies. However, when the man is right, he's right.

Posted by: lemoip | March 16, 2009 12:57 PM | Report abuse

The hypocrisy of Barney Frank and the federal government in general is astounding. Supposed outrage for the benefit of American Taxpayers (voters in their minds) over AIG or any policy THEY PUT IN PLACE while they continue to spend , bail, spend bail, tax, spend. It was Barney Frank and members of Congress that foisted Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac onto the national credit market. It was the government that shook down the nation's banking system with the Community Reinvestment Act. It was government that voted for, lied about, and then wasted $350 billion for the TARP. It was government that signed on to the second round of the TARP funds now in the hands of our irresponsible Treasury Secretary. It was government that used taxpayer funds to bail out the perpetrators of the Wall Street meltdown. It is government that led our financial industry to make these reckless loans, and it is the government DEMANDING that taxpayers foot the bill for their idiocy.

Posted by: KareninIndy | March 16, 2009 12:58 PM | Report abuse

"But if capitalism is to survive, shouldn't the Republican party, the party that defends democratic capitalism, be particularly vehement in denouncing its excesses?"


And, I suppose, the clown party should be the party to be particularly vehement in denouncing clowning!

And shouldn't the Snausberry Party also be particularly vehement in denouncing the excesses of Snausberries?

You're one in a million, Kristol.

Next, you'll be challenging Jimmy Creamer to a takedown.

Posted by: chabot744 | March 16, 2009 1:04 PM | Report abuse

While I am a upset by AIG's actions, I am even more upset with Mr. Kristol and other conservatives for not jumping on UBS, the IRS, and the American Taxpayers who have been found to be hiding their money in Swiss Bank Accounts (UBS being one bank) to avoid having to pay taxes on it. Mr. Kristol has had no problem laughing at Obama Cabinet appointees, but when it comes to taking to task the many wealthy Americans who have dodge their taxes with Swiss bank accounts, I have heard little to nothing. This is an issue we can EASILY do something about. Write your Congressperson and tell them about your outrage over this.

Posted by: JSKEVV | March 16, 2009 1:12 PM | Report abuse

Kristol has betrayed the republican party and is now an Obama socialist. Hopefully, other republicans will now finally wake up.

Posted by: blarsen1 | March 16, 2009 1:14 PM | Report abuse

Hey, I know! Let's not do ANY more bailouts. That's a sure fire way to make sure that they don't get bonuses. And just who is getting all of this bailout money, anyway? My understanding is that it's Goldman-Sachs, B of A, etc., etc. Are you kidding me?

Posted by: fmcdermott1 | March 16, 2009 1:16 PM | Report abuse

What a pathetic and trasparent attempt to direct the populist rage (we feel towards the GOP) at Obama. What a pathetic attempt to paint Bush and Obama with the same brush. Linking Saddam Hussain to bin Laden did not work, and neither will linking Obama to Bush. Pathetic!

Posted by: kurthunt | March 16, 2009 1:21 PM | Report abuse

What’s more -- AIG says it won't be able to retain talented staff "if employees believe their compensation is subject to continued and arbitrary adjustment by the U.S. Treasury.” Sure. Those employees would be snapped up -- there's a boom market right now for derivatives traders!

When you're right, you're right. And you're right on this.

Posted by: hurtubises | March 16, 2009 1:31 PM | Report abuse

It is refreshing to hear even Mr. Kristol to admit, and not so implicitly, that the free market may require some oversight.

On the other hand I do think the AIG executives "have earned" their bonuses. Look, money is money wherever it comes from. The government bailout is in fact the biggest "derivative product" of the derivative traders - it derives from their greed, stupidity, and incompetency. These "talents" screwed up the company so it is only right to give them more bucks to "fix" the company. Who knows, maybe they can get the World Bank or the IMF to give AIG more money next, right?

The free market is dead, long live the free market.

Posted by: steviana | March 16, 2009 1:31 PM | Report abuse

Btw - congrats to the deranged liberal commenters for living down to our expectations and twisting this very logical and correct commentary by Kristol into some sort of weird blanket condemnation of capitalism.

You clowns are the ones we've been waiting for.

Posted by: hurtubises | March 16, 2009 1:33 PM | Report abuse

If our taxpayers money did not bail this company out, do you think that these people will still get their bonuses? The answer is NO. They will be lining up for unemployment right now. These people should not get their bonuses because they are the one who brought this company to the brink of bankruptcy and billions of dollars of people retirement incomes.

Posted by: kirirothasom81 | March 16, 2009 1:40 PM | Report abuse

Purposely not paying contractual obligations is dangerous because it could likely be much more expensive than actually paying the bonuses. Assuming that these contracts are enforceable, by not paying and forcing people to sue for them, now AIG would risk paying its legal fees to fight the suits which could be as much as the bonuses being paid. That is a brilliant move to make just because the public is outraged and simply does not have all the facts.

Posted by: Chad32 | March 16, 2009 1:43 PM | Report abuse

The arrogance of companies like this is staggering. And AIG wants to use public money to pay these bonuses. I'm sure there's a "loophole" in those contracts that would allow the company to say to these people "you idiots, you got us into this mess, do you really think you deserve a BONUS." Fire them all and let them take their "value" as employees someplace else.

The purpose of a bonus, as I understand it, is a reward for success, not a payoff for bankrupting the company. Why on earth would AIG want to retain the very people that destroyed it, and reward them, at that. Unless..... they just don't get it at all, and don't see that there were any problems with their business model.

Posted by: momj47 | March 16, 2009 1:51 PM | Report abuse

Go away Kristol. Only an idiot would listen to you. You have an uncanny ability to be dead wrong every single time you open your mouth or touch a keyboard.

You and your friends have done a great deal of damage to America, more than anyone since the Civil War. I won't say what you really deserve, but I bet you could guess and I can guarantee you wouldn't like it.

Posted by: bigbrother1 | March 16, 2009 1:54 PM | Report abuse

These obscene bonuses are very easy for the tax-and-spend loony-left liberal d-crats to "fix".

Simply impose a 100% tax rate on theses bonuses, retroactive to date of first payment. (NB: this is the rate the pelosi-hussein regime will eventually apply to everyone to pay for their socialized heathcare plan.)

D-crats love to tax you to death, then tax your death, while wasting your tax dollars on cr*p. But, like loony-left liberal d-crat TAX CHEATS geithner, rangle, olbermann, daschle, killifer, solis, kirk and millions more, they hate to pay taxes, and they'll cheat the government out of every penny they can.

So, to ensure they get every penny of the bonuses, the loonies also need to make certain the recipients don't "geithner" them, like they do.

Posted by: LoonyLeft | March 16, 2009 2:01 PM | Report abuse

I cannot think of any course of action more likely to result in the Republican party becoming a complete laughingstock, than at this point to come out "against the execesses of capitalism." It will be a nice reprise of their 2008 campaign as the reform party.

Posted by: fzdybel | March 16, 2009 2:02 PM | Report abuse

It pains me to say that for the first time I agree with what Billy Kristol said, until I read the last paragraph about the republicans being on the populist side. All of this mess was created by the republicans for the last eight years, and Kristol has been out front for the many bad things done to this country.

Posted by: factschecker | March 16, 2009 2:04 PM | Report abuse

I agree with Mr Kristol's comments.

Execs should be paid for performance. Driving a big company into the earth warrants no bonus payment, and underlings have to deal with that reality as well as execs.

The fact that the staff is too talented to lose is a myth. The fact that CEOs of many companies are a select breed that cannot be replaced is a myth. The book "Good to Great" spells out this myth quite well.

My biggest gripe about this financial meltdown is not covered by any journalist (that I've found). The entire investing industry overlooks the ridiculous payouts to executives and has been doing so for years. As a shareholder of a company, I'm entitled to a small percentage of the profits. Those profits decline by many millions of dollars when salaries, bonuses, and stock options reach tens or hundreds of millions of dollars. I seriously question how anybody can be worth tens of millions of dollars when delivering financial losses. I also find that the short term incentive pay conflicts with long term performance of the company.

Case in point - GM. A few years ago when Hummers sales were thriving, GM's hybrid policy was "we don't have one." Look where their smug attitude got them. It wouldn't have taken a genious to see the converging forces that would drive up oil prices and change the consumer car buying mindset. Now we're bailing them out.

Posted by: IndependentOpinion | March 16, 2009 2:05 PM | Report abuse

Daniel Patrick Moynahan = " I can't believe what I just heard, and I don't"

Bernanke = The holes Bernanke and his ilk have been digging for each one of us appear to be about 4' wide, 6' long, and 6' deep. "Don't worry, trust me, I'm from the government and I'm here to help you." - Yeah, right

Obama = CYA his and his buddies and contributors

Uncle Sam = Hey, since we own 80% of AIG is there any excuse we haven't replaced the entire Board of Directors at AIG and replaced them with Americans who WILL FIRE THE INCOMPETANTS and ELIMINATE BONUSES TO REWARD MEDIOCRATY and/or CRIMINAL BEHAVIOR ?

Posted by: tucanofulano | March 16, 2009 2:07 PM | Report abuse

Treasonous financial terrorists should be dealt with in the same manner as any treasonous terrorist.

Eradication, not negotiation.

Posted by: pmp2430-wp | March 16, 2009 2:09 PM | Report abuse

As Red would say on That 70s Show, Kristol you dumbazz.

You and the idiots like you are the only one's blaming the Obama administration, or even attempting to lump them with the Bush disaster. Nice try though. Nevertheless, you disgust me for your intellectual dishonesty. However, that's nothing new, is it?

Posted by: michael4 | March 16, 2009 2:15 PM | Report abuse

Kristol, you are a republican hack. Anything you say is tainted. F you and F all your fat cat benefactors. Liar. Cheat. Hypocrite. What is your tax bracket?

Posted by: adrienne_najjar | March 16, 2009 2:17 PM | Report abuse

It is Kristol clear what Bill Kristol means. Straight face, moral code one for others and another for self, belligerence, arrogance, not admitting to any mistakes, defend the indefensible at any cost and any expense. Great to hear from him again!

Posted by: mouli_7982 | March 16, 2009 2:21 PM | Report abuse

The problem with anything written by William Kristol is that his credibility has been reduced to zilch. Just take up another profession or go join the Netanyahu regime. On second thought, don't. They might take you seriously.

Posted by: Edorampo | March 16, 2009 2:23 PM | Report abuse

First if the pay of the personnel at a bank is bonus plus base pay, AIG will have to pay years of legal fees for those qualified to receive bonuses.
Second, if someone brought in $1 billion of new business and the bonus is $100,000 they deserve the bonus. The bonus needs to be prorated by the new business.
Third, do not rush to judgment until all facts are known.

Posted by: cmstraub37 | March 16, 2009 2:24 PM | Report abuse

Maybe we should have them pay the bonuses in toxic assets at their face value; since they are the ones that created the toxicity.

Posted by: BeckleyLawyer1 | March 16, 2009 2:36 PM | Report abuse

Forget Mr. Kristol for a minute & think about the odd bending of the word "bonus" that seems to be getting missed by nearly everyone.

A bonus is generally given over and above promised compensation for fulfilling the terms of a job contract. In other words, you did so much more than what was expected of you that we're going to give you more than we promised (and we get to decide how much more your extra accomplishment was worth). You can HOPE for a bonus & maybe there's an "understanding" with your board/CEO -- but you don't generally know you're getting a bonus until you're handed the check. That's the "classic" meaning of "bonus" as I see it, and I think as a lot of working (and investing) Americans understand it.

Now, I can understand that this meaning can get pushed a bit so that there IS a contract such that you will be paid a base amount for sitting in a chair and wearing a suit every day -- and this contract will have a clause that will say if you accomplish x, y and z BEYOND sitting in the chair that you'll get a large (and even specified) amount MORE than the promised base pay -- in effect, this would be a "contractual bonus" I suppose, despite the violence done to the language. It would have to be honored. BUT...

Who has actually seen these alleged contracts outside of AIG? A lot of people would like to know WHY these "contracts" triggered bonuses that MUST now be paid. What could such a contract look like?? If these people DID actually do such great stuff despite the bad publicity, let's hear about it. But if they did NOT live up to the "bonus" clause in the contract, then CONTRACTUALLY they don't have to be paid. Get this: **I'M** on the board now as a taxpayer, and I want to see the contracts. And while we're at it, I want to see your written evaluations for the past five years.

Posted by: Steve37 | March 16, 2009 2:39 PM | Report abuse

I think Comrade Kristol is starting to sense that America has had enough of his party's Socialist Republican agenda and bailouts for his CEO/exec fatcat comrades with public tax dollars.

Too late, Bill K, we already know you and Comrade Bush are fellow travelers.

Posted by: WillSeattle | March 16, 2009 2:39 PM | Report abuse

Kristol starts to change his stripes?
The AIG people are Kristol's people.

And his cute "Bush AND Obama in the first paragraph, (he thinks, in his hubris,) plants firmly in our stupid minds, the
responsibility, for the crisis. Reason and facts aside.

THERE IS NO more disgusting neocon extant than Kritol. Though there are equals
for sure. So sick of them! And their ruinous garbage.

Posted by: whistling | March 16, 2009 2:40 PM | Report abuse

Willy, shouldn't you be planning an invasion of Iran?? no, i did not read his piece and never will.

Posted by: millionea7 | March 16, 2009 2:41 PM | Report abuse

Too much, too much.

Israel and it's far right wing govrnmnent needs you, Billy. They're screaming for another war. And you won't find many takes here. You'll be so at home there, finally.

Posted by: whistling | March 16, 2009 2:47 PM | Report abuse

Retained, feh. If they knew what they were doing they should be on the street. If they *didn't* know what they were doing they should also be on the street.

A law requiring shareholder review and approval of all upper management compensation plans looks better all the time.

Posted by: raschumacher | March 16, 2009 2:50 PM | Report abuse

Kristol-- here's a family type comment from the leader of the republican party

"She does come off like a butt boy."
-- Rush Limbaugh, on Andrea Mitchell

Posted by: CynicalMarine | March 16, 2009 2:51 PM | Report abuse

If it is out of Kristol's mouth, then it is rubbish.

Posted by: IpiTombi | March 16, 2009 2:53 PM | Report abuse

I am amazed at the hypocrisy involved in this worry. AIG distributes 0.1% of Govt. funds to employees deserving by contract a bonus and we are supposed to raise the roof. At the same time Congress distributes over 8% of the budget as a bonus(earmarks) and we are supposed to accept that as only nominal. Of course, I am interested in knowing what happened to the other 99.9% of the money given to AIG. But the Congress did not require any oversight of that money. What a joke!!!

Posted by: gordon15 | March 16, 2009 2:59 PM | Report abuse

"...if capitalism is to survive, shouldn't the Republican party, the party that defends democratic capitalism, be particularly vehement in denouncing its excesses? Isn't this a pretty spectacular one?"

Finally, a we-don't-need-no-stinking-regulations-in-a-free-market excess so big that even Bill Kristol can see it.

"And isn’t this a moment for the GOP to separate itself from the Bush administration...."

But when is Bill ("Why Bush Will be a Winner" Kristol going to separate himself from the Bush Administration?

" well as the Obama administration, who together have been responsible for an incompetent and improvident bailout?"

Uh, the AIG bailouts occurred during the BUSH administration, you contemptible, lying, arrogant, mealy-mouthed loser. What kind of idiots do you take the WaPo readers for, pretending that AIG's bailout has ANYTHING to do with Obama?

"Figuring out the right policy going forward with respect to toxic assets and the rest is, of course, a major intellectual task."

A task about which all your I-am-smarter-than-you sock puppet posturing can't convince anyone *you* have anything intelligent to impart.

"But being on the side of a healthy populist reaction to the AIG situation is at least a good political start."

The Republicans once had an honest, reasonable voice in American politics. The healthiest political move they could make at this time is to get rid of arrogant would-be opportunists like Kristol.

At the very least, it would be a healthy move of the WaPo followed the example of NYT and got rid of Kristol. Isn't there at least *one* conservative writer to replace him that isn't so disgustingly compromised?

Posted by: multiplepov | March 16, 2009 3:00 PM | Report abuse

"And isn’t this a moment for the GOP to separate itself from the Bush administration as well as the Obama administration, who together have been responsible for an incompetent and improvident bailout?" Why not? It will soon be two months since your beloved bush hit the trail, long enough for the rubes to forget the role you played as chief sycophant and cheerleader for all things likud and free enterprise. What's not to believe?

Posted by: northwind1 | March 16, 2009 3:03 PM | Report abuse

Obama has already shown outrage today, and stolen the GOP's thunder....

Checkmate, Obama for the win...

Posted by: -CMAC- | March 16, 2009 3:03 PM | Report abuse

OK, WaPo, what have you done with the real William Kristol?

Posted by: Geezer4 | March 16, 2009 3:04 PM | Report abuse

WTF? I thought they put Kristol out to pasture. Is he "too big to fail"? A little fresh air on the right.

Posted by: protagoras | March 16, 2009 3:04 PM | Report abuse

So the GOP cannot come up with any original, innovative, creative ans smart ideas until something happens. gag..So they sit on the sidelines and throw daggers and spew hatred because they have no fresh ideas and the world not just America the world is tired of seeing their pasty pathetic faces denouncing everything that President Obama does.. so now Kristol sees an opportunity for the Gump party to separate itself from the bailout that they voted for under Bush..I say it's time to vote the darn ditto heads out..they have no plans for a futuristic America and are a liability to us all....

Posted by: sabrina2 | March 16, 2009 3:08 PM | Report abuse

"What’s more -- AIG says it won't be able to retain talented staff "if employees believe their compensation is subject to continued and arbitrary adjustment by the U.S. Treasury.”"

This cracks me up... this "talented staff" ran that division of AIG into the ground and couldn't have made a bigger hash of it all than a bus load of bozos. And they're afraid to lose them when there are millions of unemployed looking for work.


Posted by: Zoot2 | March 16, 2009 3:32 PM | Report abuse

Forego: to go before. Forgo: to do without. Editor: somebody at a newspaper who's supposed to catch word-usage errors by writers who should know better but apparently don't.

Posted by: Gilliatt | March 16, 2009 3:39 PM | Report abuse

So what if the taxpayer is upset. Lets be realistic, the company signed a contract to pay these bonuses, and it cant just void them because Obama is outraged. Who cares what he thinks? He has a melodic voice but is otherwise an empty suit.
If we all can walk away from our contractual obligations just because we dont like the current economics, then we will have a depression and revert to something more like a barter economy.

Posted by: bruce18 | March 16, 2009 3:40 PM | Report abuse

It appears to be another case of believing that a large Federal government is capable of running any large program. History shows how ineffective and inefficient it is. It is not surprising that issues like this arise with AIG and the bailouts. Given past failure, why would we believe that all the large, proposed [health care etc] will be any better?

Posted by: Justlistening | March 16, 2009 3:46 PM | Report abuse

probably the first time i have agreed with you in a year. keep at it and you may become the new head of the republican party.
this from a liberal pinko commy

Posted by: hagens001 | March 16, 2009 3:47 PM | Report abuse

Have to agree with you on this one, Billy boy. Cancel the bonuses and let's see which executives have the balls to file a lawsuit demanding their perks. Bet there won't be a single one.

The "we can't break a contract" dodge is silly on its face.

Posted by: sheehanjc | March 16, 2009 3:51 PM | Report abuse

For once I agree with Mr. Kristol!

Posted by: buenor77 | March 16, 2009 4:06 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Kristol,
I would love to hear the Republican's plan but they don't seem to have one! For all of his whining, Eric Cantor hasn't presented a single idea. BTW, is Eric Cantor the best the Republicans can do?? This guy is about as useful as syphilis! And please spare me the more tax cuts crap unless you are ready to reduce Federal payroll tax withholdings; otherwise, please keep quiet.

Posted by: SteelWheel25 | March 16, 2009 4:10 PM | Report abuse

Poor old Billy, how fast he forget about the the big TAX BREAK the RICH people were getting under the Bush adminstration.
Is this guy for real?
Billy, was'nt writing any articles when Halliburton was stealing billions from the taxpayers.

Posted by: llevario2 | March 16, 2009 4:10 PM | Report abuse

Kristol writes: "Public distaste for both the Bush and Obama administrations' handling of the financial crisis seems to be crystallizing..."

Don't you wish. If you had stopped with Bush, you'd only be a bit late recognizing what everyone else has known for months. By including Obama, you've slipped back into those curious hallucinations that have taken hold in the mind of conservative pundits.

Posted by: st50taw | March 16, 2009 4:12 PM | Report abuse

No, darling Bill! People are not disgusted at the Obama's administration, especially since it has been operating for only two months.

There is a solution to AIG's legal problems about paying bonuses. It's called putting AIG in Chapter 11, i.e., bankruptcy. Since, We the People, were unfortunately stuck into owning 80% of AIG, We need to make our voice heard.

AIG has laughed in the face of the taxpayer for too long -- aided and abetted by the hapless Geithner --. It is high time that we demand transparency and that we block payments to the crooks who saddled us with this disaster.

It is also high time that AIG be audited on its supposedly "sound" businesses. What exactly does their case-loss reserves cover? Are they sufficient? How about reserves set out for IBNRs?

Are NY insurance regulators looking at AIG books, or are they asleep on the helm as usual?

Posted by: Gatsby1 | March 16, 2009 4:15 PM | Report abuse

after reading the article and noting it had the same thoughts as me ("who gives a crap about breaking contracts? let them sue!"), i had to double check this was Bill Kristol the neocon and not BIll Crystal the, i had a similar thought as Bill Kristol...not sure if I should be happy or shocked

Posted by: peter44 | March 16, 2009 4:31 PM | Report abuse

The far more important story is that the rest of AIG's bailout money went to European banks. The bailout was a huge mistake foisted on us first by Bush then by Obama. Bankruptcy would've fixed all of these problems very nicely, while saving the taxpayers about a trillion dollars. Once again American taxpayers, the indentured servants of the world, were forced to save everyone else from a little economic discomfort. Somewhere, somehow, we need to find political leaders who understand what freedom means, what limited government means, and what capitalism means. That used to be the Republican party but unfortunately that party was overtaken by the Bush statists and now I can't tell one from the other.

Posted by: Rational4 | March 16, 2009 4:35 PM | Report abuse

Couldn't you use say AIG breached the contract they had with the American people to invest wisely? As someone pointed out, whatever goals that were in the contract to provide a bonus could not have been met.

Couldn't the contract be voided for non-performance?

Posted by: baltimoremom | March 16, 2009 4:36 PM | Report abuse

Wow, Kristol gets it right for once. But notice he's not saying this is the RIGHT thing to do, just that it would be politically imprudent to appear to be opposing a groundswell of public indignation.

Posted by: herzliebster | March 16, 2009 4:36 PM | Report abuse

Typical Republican. First concern is always the party over the country. That is why OBL is still at large, the military is decimated, the treasury is broke, the economy is a shambles. The GOP is guilt of treason against the country

Posted by: noaxe397 | March 16, 2009 4:40 PM | Report abuse

"...shouldn't the Republican party, the party that defends democratic capitalism, be particularly vehement in denouncing its excesses? Isn't this a pretty spectacular one? And isn’t this a moment for the GOP to separate itself from the Bush administration as well as the Obama administration, who together have been responsible for an incompetent and improvident bailout?"

Say it ain't so! Bill Kristol is joining the Frum/Will/Powell wing of the GOP? Bill, didn't you get the memo from Heritage this morning? Rush and Sean have been defending the bonuses as legitimate, minuscule payments to "employees." Denying them extra pay for a "job well done" is Big Brother Socialism, buddy!

The cracks are getting wider.....

Posted by: abqcleve | March 16, 2009 4:43 PM | Report abuse


1. Like the federal "Crude Oil Windfall Profit Tax Act", specific industries or individuals (and windfall profits) can be taxed at a higher rate.

2. Create a list of companies which have effectively passed into public ownership (e.g., AIG), i.e., have been nationalized, and require all bonus payments at those companies to be subject to a 99.99% tax rate over a set threshold.

3. If these people need millions in bonuses to FAIL, they are not the best and brightest. They should not be retained in employment, and they should not walk away with these payments.

4. If AIG had failed, there would have been NO BONUSES, so effectively, the US taxpayer is making these payments possible.

These bonuses are an offense against natural justice.

Posted by: Matthew_DC | March 16, 2009 4:58 PM | Report abuse

It looks like to me that a 95% bailout bonus tax is in order.

Posted by: DrS1 | March 16, 2009 5:26 PM | Report abuse

Wow except for the couple of lies/snipes at Obama... I actually agree with Kristol. There's a first. Is it snowing in hell or have conservative talking heads finally realized the wind is blowing a different direction?

Posted by: pdxgeek | March 16, 2009 5:27 PM | Report abuse

Geah, where did you come from Bill? From the NYtimes to the Washingthonpost - from one crime scene to another. I find it amazing when republicans try to link the TARP corruption of the Bush/Cheney/Paulson bailout with the Obama administration, nice try Mr neocon par excellence. The American People won't be fooled by the GOP/Limbaugh party.

Posted by: fgerald0204 | March 16, 2009 5:28 PM | Report abuse

Obama is fine with billions of dollars of earmarks that were 2% of the stimulus package but gets his panties all up in a knot over AIG giving $165 million of $170 billion (less than 1%) in bonuses.

I guess Obama wanted a bonus too.

Posted by: ahashburn | March 16, 2009 5:30 PM | Report abuse

oh no. as if that shock jock editorial on freeman and that pathetic lead article on obama's "blame bush" strategy weren't enough - now we get the enlightened views of william kristol in the post. as if krauthammer were not enough. i am absolutely mystified as to why the post evidently feels the need to build neocon credentials just as the obama era begins. is there a new editorial board or something?

Posted by: matza_ | March 16, 2009 5:40 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Kristol is always wrong, but to cover himself, he provokes - such as including Obama in the catastrophic failure that conservatives, especially neoconservatives, have brought to government in the American economy and every aspect of foreign relations. Shame, Kristol.

Posted by: dudh | March 16, 2009 5:47 PM | Report abuse

Just cap everybody's income at no more than 100K gross and be done with it.

Posted by: billmosby | March 16, 2009 6:04 PM | Report abuse

Well Mr. Kristol, we finally agreed on something...up until your last paragraph. I guess that's progress.

Posted by: bginNC | March 16, 2009 6:18 PM | Report abuse

More bias against Kristol, as usual. Statements like "Mr. Kristol is always wrong" are absurd.

Posted by: mbm011 | March 16, 2009 6:20 PM | Report abuse

"And isn’t this a moment for the GOP to separate itself from the Bush administration "

Um, excuse me - did I miss the article where YOU seperated yourself from the Bush administration? Nope - you still defend that Administration every chance you get. Nice try Billy Boy

Posted by: tarheelraj | March 16, 2009 6:23 PM | Report abuse

What has Rush told the Republican Party their stance is on this?

Posted by: Impeachbush99 | March 16, 2009 6:29 PM | Report abuse

President Obama has shown us in the short time that he has been President that the beautiful suit and the promises share one thing in common. They are empty.

Posted by: mharwick | March 16, 2009 6:39 PM | Report abuse

Kristol has lost all credibility and so has the WaPO for actually giving him a forum.

Posted by: goskins21 | March 16, 2009 6:53 PM | Report abuse

Hey we high-tech contractors just had a 10-percent pay cut, despite the idea that we had a contract...AIG executives must have been tone-deaf to the need for taxpayer subsidy, not to mention the idea that AIG over-reached for profits without proper underwriting. I can;t imagine any kind of litigation would help the "embattled executives". They would be viewed by a jury as "crooks", no? Remember what happened to Ken at Enron?

Posted by: rmorris391 | March 16, 2009 6:54 PM | Report abuse

Why is this guy back on washington post? This as$clown should be in prison for his role in manipulating the invasion of Iraq. Go to hell, loser.

Posted by: lovescheese | March 16, 2009 7:06 PM | Report abuse

So this is how bad it has to get before those who have been championing what Wall Street has been doing decide to start pointing fingers. My oh my. Next thing you know Kristol will say invading Iraq was not a good idea.

For all the good people losing jobs in this nation why does anyone give these people space? First Cheney CNN and now Kristol in the Post? Why not hire an auto worker who just lost his job after 25 years and ask him to write a piece about AIG. I'm sure he's be happy and could use the money. Or maybe a returning vet coming home from his forth tour of duty can write what he thinks of the decision to invade Iraq? Anyone would be better at writing these opinions that those who have been at the epicenter of the republican earthquake that is slowly ruining this nation. Maybe you should have Libby write next about how to manage the CIA.

Posted by: bevjims1 | March 16, 2009 7:25 PM | Report abuse

What a putz.

Posted by: marvin5 | March 16, 2009 8:52 PM | Report abuse

Kristol's only interest in this most recent moment of our financial crisis is to pimp for the Republican Party--saying they will gain points by "being on the side of a healthy populist reaction."

Maybe I'm wrong and Kristol isn't a pimp but only one of those who labor on their backs for pimps.

Posted by: junendon | March 16, 2009 9:26 PM | Report abuse

Looks like Kristol's crystal ball has acquired another crack. But wait! This isn't a prediction but a statement of fact: The "people" are fed up with Obama's take on the financial crisis and--after fifty whole days in office--see his efforts as a total failure!
Hint to Washington Post: There was a reason the New York Times got rid of this guy. You might want to ask them why if it wasn't clear to your hiring staff

Posted by: KarelS | March 16, 2009 9:36 PM | Report abuse

I am glad WP hires Bill Kristol. I'd like to hear from all voices, not just one side. Let everyone speak their mind freely, but boycott whatever whenever you want. This is a free country we all love.

Posted by: dummy4peace | March 16, 2009 9:36 PM | Report abuse

"won't be able to retain talented staff"
========================================== business, the only ethic and loyalty is to money?

How very, very sad-! You miss the color of life, you waste it.

Little wonder for all your money you leave little of value or joy as you mete out your miserable, shallow, pointless lives.

No wonder you forever need "more" - so empty are you, you think the problem is you don't have enough.

All the money on earth won't fill the abyss that is inside of you.

Posted by: T-Prop | March 16, 2009 9:46 PM | Report abuse

I hope the Washington Post has enough integrity to call out Kristol's distortion here. The AIG bailout was done under Bush's watch, not Obama's. The biggest problem with the republican party is that they constantly distort reality and unless they stop they will always be associated with Bush, Cheney and Rove. Lies don't sell anymore.

Posted by: jryan758 | March 16, 2009 10:17 PM | Report abuse

Government intervention is needed and is good in cases such as this. Regulation is not a black and white issue, there are gray areas first of all. That means that regulation and government control is absolutely needed and good when it comes to keeping people and companies honest and above board with their policies, spending, polluting, investing and so on. Republicans are pretty stupid when it comes to this ideology and brain wash their ignorant followers and try to brain wash the voters with non sense about 'keeping government out of our business' well when the government is trying to enforce the rules and are 'kept out of our business' by republicans, the stock market is out control, pollution is out of control, banks are out of control and criminals like AIG are out of control too. THIS is one of the many reasons why Democrats are the superior choice for our leadership, because we believe in government regulation and oversight where and when needed. This money is our tax money meant to keep AIG afloat so insurance claims and the infrastructure of the company is still funded, it was not meant for bonuses, this is why the government needs to be involved in oversight as AIG obviously cannot be trusted with our money. Go get 'em President Obama.

Posted by: Hillary08 | March 16, 2009 10:53 PM | Report abuse


You will end up like P-I if you keep enabling this Maroon Twit

Posted by: mdpilot | March 16, 2009 11:23 PM | Report abuse

What sort of hold does Kristol have on the media. No matter the lies , distortions,and just plain wrongness of his opinions, he somehow remains in the forefront of repug leadership. Maybe he should have a duel with El Rushbo. But then he would have to apologise just like the rest. A note to the post. Fire this jerk, along with Will, Krauthammer, and Gerson. Give us a break already. If you dont wise up you will soon be out of business. The country has had enough of the neoconvicts already. Put this guy on a flight with Vitter!

Posted by: waawaazaire | March 17, 2009 2:04 AM | Report abuse

Oh please. Kristol and his Krew have been Wall Street's butt boys for years. Credibility now? Zero.

Posted by: FlownOver | March 17, 2009 3:43 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company