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White House Cheat Sheet: Cleaning Up the AIG Mess



President Obama heads west amid growing controversy surrounding AIG. AP Photo/Jim R. Bounds

President Obama heads to the West Coast for two days today even as his administration seeks to tamp down an increasing furor over the bonuses given to AIG executives.

After two unsuccessful attempts by White House press secretary Robert Gibbs to deal with the growing chorus of questions from the podium, the administration released a time line of events indicating when they became aware of the AIG bonuses.

Last Tuesday -- March 10 -- was when Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner first heard about the bonuses. The next evening Geithner spoke with AIG CEO Edward Liddy to express his dismay over the situation and tasked his legal team with finding a way not to stop the bonuses. On Thursday, Geithner told "senior aides" at the White House about the AIG bonuses and later in the day President Obama was informed. Geithner spent the weekend trying to re-negotiate the bonuses with Liddy -- to no apparent end.

The release of the details is aimed at answering the ever-present "who knew what and when did they know" questions that, until today, the administration had not yet addressed. For an administration built on transparency, answering that baseline question is critical.

But, it remains far from clear whether the release of AIG timeline by the White House will quell the burgeoning controversy.

First, take a look back at the first question of Tuesday's daily press briefing courtesy of Jennifer Loven of the Associated Press. "I think Secretary Geithner said he only knew about [the bonuses] last week," said Loven. "And the question is why didn't he know it about it sooner?"

The release of the tick-tock of events doesn't answer Loven's question. Why didn't Geithner know about this situation earlier? That's likely to be at the center of the questions today for Obama both before he boards Air Force One and after he lands in Costa Mesa, Calif. for a town hall.

Second, Obama and his senior aides don't have the luxury of making their case in a (and, yes it is one of our favorite words thanks for asking) vacuum.

Republicans are showing a willingness to use the AIG bonuses as a political cudgel against Obama and the Democrats. Freshman Republican Reps. Erik Paulsen (Minn.) and Leonard Lance (N.J.) held a press conference Tuesday introducing legislation that aims to force the Treasury Department to recoup all of the money being paid out in bonuses to AIG. "This is clearly another example of not only how Congress is broken but how the administration has dropped the ball," said Paulsen.

Does this bill have a chance of going anywhere? No. It's a purely political move but that doesn't mean it won't have an effect.

These are the challenges that face Obama as he deals with what is reasonably described as the first crisis (minor or major depends on where you stand and, probably, on your party affiliation) of his presidency.

Sked Stuff: With President Obama spending much of his day flying from coast to coast, Vice President Biden may get a (rare) moment in the sun as he addresses a day-long conference with local officials on how the $787 billion economic stimulus package will be implemented in the states. Remember that passing the bill through Congress was only part of the equation; making sure the money is spent smartly and in a transparent way is critical to convincing the American public the massive outlay of cash was necessary.

Wednesday We-Reads: We read them. You should too.

1. Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus on why all the outrage talk surrounding the AIG bonuses might be the exact wrong emotion.
2. Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley (R) walks back his call for AIG executives either resign or commit suicide by using the word "tit" to describe the situation. Good times.
3. More than six in ten Alaskans have a "very" or "somewhat" positive view of Gov. Sarah Palin (R), according to a new poll.
4. The Justice Department affirms New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's right to seek a third term.
5. iPhone 3.0 is either the greatest thing since sliced bread or only so-so.

DNC To Expand Communications Operation: The Democratic National Committee is in the process of greatly broadening its communications operation, a strategy highlighted by the hiring of veteran operative Hari Sevugan as deputy communications director and national spokesman for the committee. Sevugan spent the 2008 general election as a member of President Obama's rapid response operation and before that served as communications director for Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd's presidential bid. Under newly-named communications director Brad Woodhouse, the DNC will expand its regional press operation -- overseen by Carolyn Ciccone -- to include as many as six desks and a more aggressive outreach program to new media (Fix?) and bloggers. The DNC communications shop will also oversee press for Organizing for America (OFA), the grassroots organization built on Obama's 2008 campaign infrastructure. OFA will have its own dedicated strategist and press operative, according to informed sources.

Democrats Get N.H. Break: National Democrats are breathing a sigh of relief today after Rep. Carol Shea-Porter decided not to run for the open seat being vacated by Sen. Judd Gregg (R). Shea-Porter proved in her upset victory in 2006 that she had a grassroots appeal that could overcome establishment support, which she didn't have in the primary of general election that year. National Democrats were already lining up behind Rep. Paul Hodes in the Senate race but fretted privately about Shea-Porter's ability to energize the activist left in a primary. Without her in the race, Hodes's chances of being the next senator from New Hampshire are significantly improved. Republicans have no obvious candidate with former Sen. John Sununu uninterested. Former Gov. Steve Merill and former state Attorney General Tom Rath are the most likely second choices.

Click It!: While we generally ignore web ads (they are nothing more than video press releases), the National Republican Senatorial Committee's "Luck O' the Dodd" ad made us laugh out loud.

Bounds Heads West: Tall Tucker Bounds (he's 6'5") who emerged as a star on the cable chat circuit last fall as a spokesman for Sen. John McCain's presidential campaign will join Quinn Thomas Public Affairs as a partner. Bounds, a native westerner, will split time between Oregon and Washington, D.C. "Like many who grow up in the West, Tucker moved away to launch a successful career in Washington, D.C. but never lost the desire to return to his roots," wrote Quinn Thomas managing partner Doug Badger in an email announcing Bounds's hiring. "For this we deem him to be of sound judgment, possessing the proper perspective of a native Northwesterner. Or, as he might put it, sometimes a little fleece is good for the soul."

Say What?: "That's ridiculous. That has no merit in fact or by any measurement." -- Former Nebraska Republican senator Chuck Hagel on the "Rachel Maddow Show" when asked about former vice president Dick Cheney's comment that the policies of the Obama administration had made America less safe.

By Chris Cillizza  |  March 18, 2009; 5:31 AM ET
Categories:  Cheat Sheet Share This:  E-Mail | Technorati | Del.icio.us | Digg | Stumble Previous: Jon Stewart: Media Powerhouse or Rank Partisan?
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Comments

I wish to comment on the AIG issue is nothing compared to the loses the country faces. Once people follow the rule of law should always pay attention to the law. Contracts cannot be broken without the two parties agreeing to the end. Obama found the contracts were already in places so it's not his wish to abandon them without the other party accepting to it. Bush's Republicans should not be arguing for free markets without regulations; they are the once to blame for the mess.

Posted by: GODFRARE | March 22, 2009 2:44 PM | Report abuse

Who cares about millions -- maybe we should spend more time talking about trillions.

Posted by: newbeeboy | March 18, 2009 7:14 PM | Report abuse

If you are bothered by occasional or frequent constipation, repeat the following
phrase three times in succession when symptoms occur:

"My financial and personal well being are totally in the hands of Barack
Obama, Joe Biden, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, Tim Geithner, Rahm
Emmanual, Barney Frank, Chris Dodd, and Al Gore".

Posted by: leapin | March 18, 2009 5:41 PM | Report abuse

As ThinkProgress noted yesterday, Republicans who opposed Wall Street salary caps, such as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Senate Banking Commitee ranking member Richard Shelby (R-AL), are now flipping their positions to condemn the bonuses paid by AIG. Last night, McConnell made the rounds on cable television to misleadingly suggest that he has always favored salary caps.

But McConnell and Shelby are not the only Republican lawmakers pushing this deception. Rep. Peter King (R-NY), Sen. Kit Bond (R-MO), and Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) also are hypocritically altering their views:

Q: “Should Congress, should the White House be getting a way for these contracts to be broken?”
KING: “Congress should find a way to do it or the administration should lean on them in a way to get – to have it done.” [MSNBC, 3/17/09]

BOND: “It’s unacceptable to pay bonuses after the American taxpayer was forced to bail out an institution without reforming it.” [KRCG, 3/18/09]

INHOFE: “The AIG situation is clear evidence of what happens when you shovel money out the door with no strings attached and no transparency.” [KTUL, 3/17/09]

Only a month ago, King argued against strong provisions to ensure executive salaries were capped:

KING: “No, I will say, I agree there should have been some caps. I think this went too far, and I think it can be counterproductive.” [ABC News, 2/15/09]

Last month, Bond sharply criticized a bill offered by Sen. Claire McCaskill to limit the salary of executives at companies receiving federal bailout money to no more than what the president of the United States makes — $400,000 a-year:

BOND: “The worst thing we can do is tell businesses how to run themselves. Congress has a pretty bad track record. If you you look at our collective judgment, all 535 of us in our wisdom can’t run government very well. (We) sure can’t run business.” [STL Today, 2/2/09]

While Inhofe today demands “strings attached” to federal bailout money, he expressed the opposite in February:

INHOFE: “I thought, is this still America? Do we really tell people how to run [a business], and who to pay and how much to pay?” [Huffington Post, 2/6/09]

Former Speaker Newt Gingrich today penned an op-ed venting his “outrage” at the “fat bonuses” paid to staffers at AIG. However in November, while speaking with Fox News’ Sean Hannity, he attacked Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) for having the audacity to send “off letters to every bank demanding to know all of their executive compensation policy.” Gingrich then scoffed at the idea of capping salaries specifically at AIG:

GINGRICH: “You have a level of micromanagement of AIG and others. You can’t apply Washington bureaucratic rules to a free market company without ultimately destroying the company.” [Fox News, 11/12/08]

Hypocrisy abounds.

Posted by: drindl | March 18, 2009 4:42 PM | Report abuse

d-seid:

but that is what an administration change is all about.
If, for one minute, anyone believes that suddenly, on November 9th, the doors of information opened for President Obama, you are sadly mistaken.
There is so much that stays out of the "new president's loop" when a dem administration goes repub, or repub goes dem administration.
The outgoing wants to sink the incoming.

And you are witnessing this now.
the loss of communication isn't because of
"incompetence on anyone's part", it is because the outgoing administration purposely holds the information back.

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | March 18, 2009 4:29 PM | Report abuse

Finger pointers bumping into butt coverers jostling the clueless. Ladies and gentlemen, your Democratic Party. Coming soon - Bonuses at Freddie and Fannie.

Posted by: leapin | March 18, 2009 4:01 PM | Report abuse

aprogressiveindependant writes
"The Obama administration and Congress seem quite content to allow bankruptcy judges to abrogate mortgage contracts to forgive principal for many people who borrowed for homes they could not afford, yet seem inhibited to recover taxpayer's money taken by greedy companies given to make the rich richer.

Return the money or let AIG go bankrupt or be nationalized. Not really that complicated, after all."


You bring up a notable point: there is a distinct difference between bailout funding and bankruptcy. At the time that Paulson & Bernanke decided to bail AIG, the concern was that bankruptcy would cause too much collateral damage. So we, the taxpayers, loaned AIG money to keep them out of bankruptcy, so their assets could be reorganized in a more structured environment. A sad side effect is that we don't get the benefit of bankrupcy law, where the courts can unilaterally decide who gets paid what (not only employees, but creditors as well).

Maybe Paulson & Bernanke were wrong - maybe we should have let AIG go into bankruptcy. But we'll never know, will we? Geithner's stuck with cleaning up the mess now; how Bernanke is escaping culpability while Geithner gets crucified is beyond me.

Posted by: bsimon1 | March 18, 2009 3:59 PM | Report abuse

Shockingly, under questioning, AIG ceo Liddy reveals that he and his board meet with Federal Reserve operatives but that Obama's Treasury is out of the loop even though AIG got 40 bln of Treasury money. The Federal Reserve gave the majoity of funds. Liddy said he wasn't sure if the Federal Reserve kept the Treasury informed of what was going on. Where is Treasury Geithner????? This is total incompetence by Geithner who seems more of a water boy front man to Summers who makes the decisions. It seems Obama doesn't control his economic team but rather they wag the dog.

Since the US tax payer owns 80 percent of AID, is someone from Obama's Geithner"s Treasury finally going to be sitting in on AIG board meeting and have a say. Or will it be up to the Federal Reserve and AIG secretly do what they want, letting Treasury know what they want them to know, like telling Treasury a few days before AIG is giving bonuses.

Geithner is incompetent.

Posted by: d-seid | March 18, 2009 3:52 PM | Report abuse

fannie mae and freddie mac execs are getting their bonuses too...

the people that are NOT b***ing are the ones making money on the tanked AIG stock.

Makes me think that I am really really sorry that William Demming took Total Quality Management to Japan in the 1940s because dumb a^%^* Americans wouldn't buy into it.
All of this AIG and the bonuses debacles--
America will NEVER be practicing Total Quality Management.
We, the People lose again.


Posted by: TheBabeNemo | March 18, 2009 3:34 PM | Report abuse

The Obama administration and Congress, Democrats, as well as Republicans, will look very weak indeed if they kowtow to the robber barons on Wall Street without regaining every cent of the outrageous "bonuses." The Wall Street tycoons will be seen as they are, as masters of the country during a revived Gilded age, having disdain for elected representatives and the common people or peasants as they seem to look upon us.

The Obama administration and Congress seem quite content to allow bankruptcy judges to abrogate mortgage contracts to forgive principal for many people who borrowed for homes they could not afford, yet seem inhibited to recover taxpayer's money taken by greedy companies given to make the rich richer.

Return the money or let AIG go bankrupt or be nationalized. Not really that complicated, after all.

Posted by: Aprogressiveindependent | March 18, 2009 3:04 PM | Report abuse

I'd express something a little more than "dismay" if I was Geitner. This clown didn't know enough to pay his taxes and now he's trying to corral AIG et al. He's out of his depth! He makes Paulsen look F&*(ing dynamic!

Posted by: Roofelstoon | March 18, 2009 3:03 PM | Report abuse

when were all these contracts signed originally?
and then, were these contracts re-visited when Bush's Econ. Stabliziation Act passed.

something fishy?

i guess AIG employees are getting death threats from the public.
I tell ya, if these people, walking around in their skin..
knew, if they damn well knew--
they were "bilking" the public.
Hang the mothers!

I have no sympathy for people that screw people and then brag about it while they count their lovely money.
Scratch my back while I knife yours.
Welcome to America folks. We are just so freaking great, aren't we!!!


Posted by: TheBabeNemo | March 18, 2009 2:59 PM | Report abuse

heeh11281 writes
"now read the provision in the amendment that states "exception for contractually obligated bonuses agreed on before Feb. 11, 2009,..." "


So... Leeh- is it your position that the government should be allowed to retroactively rewrite and/or ignore contracts with terms that are not to its liking? Do you think that is legal?


.

Posted by: bsimon1 | March 18, 2009 2:51 PM | Report abuse

Peasants with pitchforks? More like soldiers with tree branches. It's Birnam Wood time.

Posted by: mattintx | March 18, 2009 2:45 PM | Report abuse

and remember, TARP funding was the second half of the Economic Stabilization Act of 2008.
which was Bush's.

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | March 18, 2009 2:26 PM | Report abuse

leeh:
not as easy as that-
much more language of the law must be read. to see if the intended language (Dodd's) made it all the way.

sa98 was withdrawn while sa354 passed in the senate.
all of it went back to the house....

there is alot of back & forth with law.

i believe the Dodd amendment, if the language made it all the way to P.L. 111-5, is the "out" the Senate will use to tax AIG recipients. This was yesterday's big press story.

but alas, more research for the exactness of language needs to be done.


Posted by: TheBabeNemo | March 18, 2009 2:24 PM | Report abuse


"Did you see Jake Tapper of ABC getting getting all medieval on Robert Gibbs at the White House yesterday? When did the President first learn about the AIG bonuses? Would you give us a tick-tock on what he knew, how he knew, and what his reaction was?

And the newspapers are going nuts. Outrage is the #1 headline word of the day. And the pundits are wondering: is the bloom off the Obama rose?

I have two words for the MSM: shut the f up.

For eight years, the Republicans gave unprecedented trillion dollar bonuses to the richest people in America. They took the Clinton boom and intentionally turned it to bust. On top of that, they lied us into a war that killed 4000+ Americans and maybe a million Iraqis.

Where was the MSM's OUTRAGE then? Was David Gregory outraged when he boogied with Rove at the press dinner? Did any of his colleagues join Helen Thomas when she asked some really hard questions at the daily briefings? No. They laughed at her for taking it all so seriously.

But now they are GENUINELY outraged at a Democratic President who is trying to fix a mess that occured in part because they refused to challenge the big scarey Republicans. Chutzpah.

I can't stand the MSM. Obama should ignore them. Most Americans do."

Posted by: drindl | March 18, 2009 2:15 PM | Report abuse

Chris Dodd, Barney Frank and "The One" received major campaign contributions from AIG. Hello - I think the old timers would call this "bed fellows"!!

Posted by: leapin | March 18, 2009 2:14 PM | Report abuse


okay...
2/4/2009:
S.AMDT.354 Amendment SA 354 proposed by Senator Dodd to Amendment SA 98. (consideration: CR S1530-1531; text: CR S1530-1531)
To impose executive compensation limitations with respect to entities assisted under the Troubled Asset Relief Program.

Posted by: TheBabeNemo
==========
Correct babe, now read the provision in the amendment that states "exception for contractually obligated bonuses agreed on before Feb. 11, 2009,..."

Posted by: leeh11281 | March 18, 2009 2:13 PM | Report abuse

It is interesting to note that two of the most outraged politicians gained the most in campaign contributions from AIG, voted to give taxpayer dollars to AIG even when they knew these bonuses were on the table. The same 1-2 campaign recipients from failed Country Wide Financial - Senator Chris Dodd & Senator Barack Obama. Both of whom also received sweetheart loan deals as "Friends of CW CEO". And now they are outraged?

Posted by: leapin | March 18, 2009 2:12 PM | Report abuse

wrong...
the newly elected President ONLY gets access to reports that the current President (going out) authorizes.

That's the power play.

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | March 18, 2009 2:09 PM | Report abuse

"Rush Limbaugh is a fat drug addicted radio talk show host. Why do you listen to him America???'

For the same reason we don't listen to fat drug addicted posters.

Posted by: leapin | March 18, 2009 2:09 PM | Report abuse

okay...
2/4/2009:
S.AMDT.354 Amendment SA 354 proposed by Senator Dodd to Amendment SA 98. (consideration: CR S1530-1531; text: CR S1530-1531)
To impose executive compensation limitations with respect to entities assisted under the Troubled Asset Relief Program.

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | March 18, 2009 2:05 PM | Report abuse

leeh11281 writes
"The fact remains that mhe current administration knew about these bonuses after the takeover occurred in December."

That doesn't make sense. The current administration wasn't sworn in until Jan 20, 2009, which is about three weeks after December ended.

Posted by: bsimon1
=================
You don't think that the new administration gets updates and briefs from the existing administration? Think again. The bonuses were written intot he contracts before the takeover in December.

Posted by: leeh11281 | March 18, 2009 2:02 PM | Report abuse

I would suspect that there is a lot of paper involved in a global financial meltdown. To believe that Obama or the Treasury Secretary has read every word on those papers, which would presumably fill several warehouses, is not realistic. To say that they should have known about $165 million in a mess that is costing us trillions is to focus on a couple of trees in a burning forest. To expect that Wall Street would understand that all those pitchforks are NOT being carried by a bunch of gardeners out to turn the compost, and that it would be best not to irritate them, is perfectly reasonable.

However, the lack of indignation being shown is disturbing. I don't want the President going off on a tirade. I want my President calm under pressure. But surely there is something, preferably something that is elegantly devious, the executive could do to make Wall Street scream.

Posted by: caribis | March 18, 2009 1:57 PM | Report abuse

Rush "the moose on percocettes".....

hey man Rush
can you dig this....
get my drift.....here what i am saying to you now...

so what...let them surround AIG with pitchforks and DEMAND.
AIG has been crooked for years.
We find out and what are we supposed to do, kiss them

Rush Limbaugh is a fat drug addicted radio talk show host. Why do you listen to him America???

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | March 18, 2009 1:52 PM | Report abuse


I never saw Dodd's amendment in researching HR1.

Senate put 450 pages onto the bill.
Anyone have the specifics on Dodd's amendment.

I will find it. If it does exist in the law.

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | March 18, 2009 1:49 PM | Report abuse

and 'conservatives' - your leader Limbaugh tells you to leave those poor guys at AIG alone...listen up:

During the March 17 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio show, Rush Limbaugh -- "a great leader for conservatives" -- defended American International Group (AIG) from criticism of the company's controversial employee retention bonuses.

Limbaugh declared, "A lynch mob is expanding: the peasants with their pitchforks surrounding the corporate headquarters of AIG, demanding heads. Death threats are pouring in. All of this being ginned up by the Obama administration."


Posted by: drindl | March 18, 2009 1:48 PM | Report abuse

the truth behind a rather loosely vieled attempt to take down a Democratic Senator:

"Back in mid-February during the fight over the stimulus package, Senator Chris Dodd was pushing for retroactive restrictions on bonuses paid to employees of financial companies receiving bailout money. This measure, which would have applied to AIG bonuses, was opposed by Wall Street.

As word spread Friday about the new and retroactive limit -- inserted by Democratic Sen. Christopher Dodd of Connecticut -- so did consternation on Wall Street.

Both Larry Summers and Tim Geithner personally asked Senator Dodd to remove the retroactive provision, because they thought it meant banks would give the government its money back:

The administration is concerned the rules will prompt a wave of banks to return the government's money and forgo future assistance, undermining the aid program's effectiveness.

Both Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Lawrence Summers, who heads the National Economic Council, had called Sen. Dodd and asked him to reconsider, these people said.

While Dodd refused to back down, at the request of the administration the retroactive language was stripped from the final bill during the conference report anyway."

Posted by: drindl | March 18, 2009 1:33 PM | Report abuse

leeh11281 writes
"The fact remains that mhe current administration knew about these bonuses after the takeover occurred in December."


That doesn't make sense. The current administration wasn't sworn in until Jan 20, 2009, which is about three weeks after December ended.

Posted by: bsimon1 | March 18, 2009 1:24 PM | Report abuse

"Also, they knew about it when Sen. Dodd had an amendment, in the bill it is the Dodd Amendment, to authorize these bonuses to be paid. "

This is yet another rightwing lie to divert people from the truth -- which is that the Wall Street Overlords still think they deserve millions just for being who they are -- which theyl think is better than the rest of us.

Maybe a little jail time would bring them back to earth. A little Enron Time...

Posted by: drindl
====================
This is not a lie, it IS IN THE BILL. While the Senate constructed the $787 billion stimulus last month, Dodd unexpectedly added an executive-compensation restriction to the bill. That amendment provides an "exception for contractually obligated bonuses agreed on before Feb. 11, 2009," which exempts the very AIG bonuses Dodd and others are seeking to tax. The amendment is in the final version and is law.

Also, Sen. Dodd was AIG's largest single recipient of campaign donations during the 2008 election cycle with $103,100, according to opensecrets.org.

Frankly, it’s hard to imagine how the government could prevent such contracts from being honored. But the presence of this loophole, in black and white, certainly gives the lie to all of this phony outrage — by the senator who created the loophole, by the president who signed it into law, and by the other Congressmen and Senators who voted for the stimulus package.

Posted by: leeh11281 | March 18, 2009 1:21 PM | Report abuse

"about these lawfully written bonuses "

'lawfully written bonuses"??!!

you mean, gigantic buckets of billions to be given to greedy shysters who destroyed the economy?

these people deserve nothing but a stint in federal prison.

Posted by: drindl
=====
So, if you have an employment contract, that s not lawful? Guess again.

I do not believe these bonuses should have been paid given the fact that this company has failed. What angers me is that the politicians prefer to talk about AIG's latest bonus payments because they deflect attention from Washington's failure to supervise AIG. The Beltway crowd has been selling the story that AIG failed because it operated in a shadowy unregulated world and cleverly exploited gaps among Washington overseers. Said President Obama the other day, "This is a corporation that finds itself in financial distress due to recklessness and greed." That's true, but Washington doesn't want you to know that various arms of government approved (including Congressmen like Chris Dodd and Barney Frank), enabled and encouraged AIG's disastrous bet on the U.S. housing market which caused its failure.

Posted by: leeh11281 | March 18, 2009 1:14 PM | Report abuse

I'm curious to know how the party affiliation of these execs who have received million dollar bonuses. Are they Republican or Democrat?

They are well educated and can read and see the pain of their bad decision on millions of Americans who are jobless and homeless and struggling to feed their families. How much of their millions have they recently given to foodbanks and how much have they given to politicians to protect their interests?

Posted by: Nevadaandy | March 18, 2009 1:12 PM | Report abuse

I'm curious to know the party affiliation of everyone on Wall Street who have received million dollar bonuses. Are they conservative Republicans or are the Democrats?

These well educated execs can read, see and hear the pain of millions of Americans who are out of work, homeless and struggling to feed their families. So how much of their millions have they given to foodbanks to help those in need and how much have they contributed to politicians to protect their interests.

Posted by: Nevadaandy | March 18, 2009 1:06 PM | Report abuse

"Also, they knew about it when Sen. Dodd had an amendment, in the bill it is the Dodd Amendment, to authorize these bonuses to be paid. "

This is yet another rightwing lie to divert people from the truth -- which is that the Wall Street Overlords still think they deserve millions just for being who they are -- which theyl think is better than the rest of us.

Maybe a little jail time would bring them back to earth. A little Enron Time...

Posted by: drindl | March 18, 2009 12:54 PM | Report abuse

"about these lawfully written bonuses "

'lawfully written bonuses"??!!

you mean, gigantic buckets of billions to be given to greedy shysters who destroyed the economy?

these people deserve nothing but a stint in federal prison.

Posted by: drindl | March 18, 2009 12:51 PM | Report abuse

This morning, ThinkProgress editor Faiz Shakir went on MSNBC — opposite former McCain campaign spokeswoman Nancy Pfotenhauer — to discuss the AIG bonus fiasco. Faiz disputed the right wing attempts to blame Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner for the problems, pointing out that AIG’s bonus contracts were arranged under the Bush administration. He added:

If I’m faulting Geithner for anything, it’s that when he first learned of this, he didn’t take it directly to the American public and use the public anger as a negotiating tool with AIG to get them to renege on some of these bonuses.

He also faulted the “culture in Wall Street that employees expect these millions of dollars in bonuses.” “No longer can we have employees who brought down the economy expecting that they’re going to get multi-million-dollar bonuses,” Faiz said.

Posted by: drindl
============
These bonuses were arranged back when AIG was still a private company and Bush had NOTHING to do with it. The sooner the liberal drones realize just what an incompetent Obama and Geithner both are, the better. The fact remains that mhe current administration knew about these bonuses after the takeover occurred in December. Also, they knew about it when Sen. Dodd had an amendment, in the bill it is the Dodd Amendment, to authorize these bonuses to be paid. This is what happens all too often in government. The left hand seldom knows what the right hand is doing.

Posted by: leeh11281 | March 18, 2009 12:49 PM | Report abuse

We get farther with a Demo administration domestically.....and that is after we clean up the Repulsive mess that is INHERITED.
new keyword folks - INHERITED
Posted by: TheBabeNemo
=====
Hmmm...the deficit for the current fiscal year was $450 billion on October 1. Then Obama voted for the TARP bailout. Got money to the automotive industry, passed an $800 billion (1.3 trillion with interest) stimulus bill, a $400 billion spending bill, plus 2-3 trillion more for the banks, and has proposed spending almost 4 trillion in his budget. Exactly what part of this is inherited? Face it, he is bankrupting our kids.

Posted by: leeh11281 | March 18, 2009 12:43 PM | Report abuse

"Last Tuesday -- March 10 -- was when Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner first heard about the bonuses."
===========
That is a lie. Obama, Geithner and the current Administration have known about these lawfully written bonuses since December.

Posted by: leeh11281 | March 18, 2009 12:38 PM | Report abuse

greed, Greed, GREED!! This is what is at the core of the AIG fiasco and that of all its cohorts in self-serving iniquitous behavior on Wall Street. St. Paul had it right when he said: "The love of money is the root of all evil."

Ed Hollatz, Wheaton, IL

Posted by: ej8660 | March 18, 2009 12:27 PM | Report abuse


king---no no no pilgrim...

That's Reaganomics and the fight to
re-vive a dead and disasterous horse.

I love the way, our President, in office for 50 something days, is to blame for the last decade.
You are just mad because you know all the Republican platforms, money, and programs with free money to rich buddies is negated by the new Democratic administration.
We get farther with a Demo administration domestically.....and that is after we clean up the Repulsive mess that is INHERITED.
new keyword folks - INHERITED

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | March 18, 2009 11:57 AM | Report abuse

(((i am laughing)))

Rules and regs - don't make me gag. What the heck do you think got us in this mess. Not following USCODE, rules, law, etc. etc.

Wendy Gramm won't get anywhere with her rules and regs (to skirt the law)
while those regulations are frozen.

Love the Rahm-a-tolla.
Keep them frozen for a year.
Nothing in the law stops it.

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | March 18, 2009 11:50 AM | Report abuse


can't take it to the American Public without having the ducks in a row.
You know the American Public, as the collective, are generally dumb.
(((sorry, but that is the way it is and all listen to the press to form opinions)

nope nope nope.
this is all on Bush's Economic Stabilization Act of 2008.
His last handout to his rich buddies.

Liddy you say...hmmm...any relation to Gordon??????

It's AIGATE

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | March 18, 2009 11:47 AM | Report abuse

This morning, ThinkProgress editor Faiz Shakir went on MSNBC — opposite former McCain campaign spokeswoman Nancy Pfotenhauer — to discuss the AIG bonus fiasco. Faiz disputed the right wing attempts to blame Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner for the problems, pointing out that AIG’s bonus contracts were arranged under the Bush administration. He added:

If I’m faulting Geithner for anything, it’s that when he first learned of this, he didn’t take it directly to the American public and use the public anger as a negotiating tool with AIG to get them to renege on some of these bonuses.

He also faulted the “culture in Wall Street that employees expect these millions of dollars in bonuses.” “No longer can we have employees who brought down the economy expecting that they’re going to get multi-million-dollar bonuses,” Faiz said.

Posted by: drindl | March 18, 2009 11:02 AM | Report abuse

Without context, the fix's comment that
"[m]ore than six in ten Alaskans have a "very" or "somewhat" positive view of Gov. Sarah Palin (R), according to a new poll," is useless. Six months ago the governor was described as 'the most popular politician in America,' based on astronomically high approval rates in her home state of around 80%. While most politicians would kill for support of 6 in 10 constituents, the trend is not moving in a good direction for Gov Palin.

Posted by: bsimon1 | March 18, 2009 10:51 AM | Report abuse

king_of_zouk: F you. You don't know diddly squat.

Posted by: adrienne_najjar | March 18, 2009 10:50 AM | Report abuse

The costly collapse of Enron. Not to mention WorldCom, Global Crossing, etc.

The costly collapse of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

The costly collapse of Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch, possibly Washington Mutual, etc.

The 300 point plunge on this morning's Wall Street stocks.

Plummeting bank stocks in Europe.

All, it would seem, the bastard children of Professors Phil and Wendy Gramm who have been so wonderfully kind to the U.S. economy. And to working-class Americans who are going to pay the bills to clean up the Phil and Wendy messes.

Karen Hedwig Backman's diary :: ::
Did it all begin with a little tryst between the corporation Enron and the professorial wife of then Senator Phil Gramm of Texas?

In an apparent response to a 1992 plea from Enron, Dr. Wendy Gramm, then chair of the federal Commodity Futures Trading Commission, moved to exempt the company's energy-swap operation from government oversight. By then, the Houston-based Enron was a major contributor to Senator Gramm's campaign.

A few days after she got the ball rolling on the exemption, Wendy Gramm resigned from the commission. Enron soon appointed her to its board of directors, where she served on the audit committee, which oversees the inner financial workings of the corporation. For this, the company paid her between $915,000 and $1.85 million in stocks and dividends, as much as $50,000 in annual salary, and $176,000 in attendance fees, according to a report by Public Citizen, a group that has relentlessly tracked Enron.

Meanwhile Enron had become Phil Gramm's largest corporate contributor—and according to Public Citizen, the largest across-the board donor in its industry. Between 1989 and 2001, the company tossed Gramm just under $100,000.

Posted by: drindl | March 18, 2009 10:50 AM | Report abuse

you see how long this has been going on?


"Wendy Lee Gramm helped continue the "Reagan revolution" as a free-market regulator and chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission from 1988 to 1993, so perhaps it was no surprise the wife of former Texas Sen. Phil Gramm ended up on the board of Enron in 1993. But that post brought her a hefty dose of notoriety when the Enron debacle unfolded in late 2001.

As a member of the company's audit and compliance committee, she helped approve financial statements and acted as the liaison to auditors Arthur Andersen. Enron subsequently collapsed, Arthur Andersen folded, and Gramm left the board.

So where is Gramm now? Ironically, she is in the center of the corporate governance debate. Gramm, 59, is chairman of regulatory studies for the Mercatus Center, a conservative think tank affiliated with George Mason University in Virginia. She recently moderated a panel on a proposed rule by the Securities and Exchange Commission to give shareholders more access to board selection. But the dozens of corporate governance experts attending the December meeting didn't acknowledge the white elephant in the room. Enron came up in passing, but the fact that one of its former directors was leading a discussion about how boards of directors should be held accountable to shareholders went unspoken.

Posted by: drindl | March 18, 2009 10:48 AM | Report abuse

It all goes back to the 80s. Savings and loan crisis. Major republican figures investigated. but cut loose due to connections. Republicans controlling congress, instead of regulating, deregulate... and the beat goes on, and the crooked institutions keep getting bigger. Enron was the tip of the iceberg.

"More than two years after its spectacular bankruptcy, Enron remains synonymous with the wave of corporate scandals that torpedoed stock prices and investor confidence. Guilty pleas from Andrew and Lea Fastow notwithstanding, Enron executives have mainly remained silent. But one key Enron director has spoken out -- to defend the practices that left her rich and Enron shareholders broke.

Wendy Gramm, a member of the Enron audit committee that approved Fastow's shady partnerships, filed one of the reported record 12,000 public comments on the Securities and Exchange Commission's proposal to tweak the rules for choosing corporate boards of directors. The SEC proposal grew out of a consensus that, thanks to a Soviet-style election system that effectively sidelines shareholders, directors were neglecting their legal duty to investors to oversee managers, creating a climate conducive to corporate scandals. For example, the failure of Enron's board of directors in general, and its audit committee in particular, led to the company's stunning bankruptcy, vaporizing stockholdings once valued at $90 billion.

You'd expect Wendy Gramm, now head of the Regulatory Studies Program at George Mason University's Mercatus Center, to recognize that the Enron board's extraordinary failure indicated a dire need for reform. You'd be dead wrong.

Gramm thinks the system works just fine. After all, she pocketed an estimated $2 million as an Enron director.

Posted by: drindl | March 18, 2009 10:46 AM | Report abuse

As far as I can tell this big mess began shortly after the worst speaker in history took over- peloony. Big biz saw that rules no longer mattered and deployed the lobbyists to grease up barney (ugly opportunity foregone here). When caught in their treachery, the only recourse- blame someone else. Typical victim lib.

Posted by: king_of_zouk | March 18, 2009 10:45 AM | Report abuse

And while we're at it, why not a criminal investigation into the members of Congress who thwarted regulators, who passed the deregulation that caused this entire financial catastrophe.

We could start with the prime villians, Phil Gramm and Dick Armey. And of course, Phil's wife, Wendy, one of the major corporate criminals.

ENRON: Wendy L. Gramm:
Washington, D.C.
Former Chairman,
U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission

Blind Faith: How Deregulation and Enron's Influence Over Government Looted Billions from Americans

http://www.apfn.org/enron/gramm.htm

Posted by: drindl | March 18, 2009 10:43 AM | Report abuse

Now we see how lib governance really works. Fraud, waste, abuse, finger pointing and recriminations. Instead of actually solving any problems, they expend their energies avoiding blame for what they did last week.

Hey Ringling- got your clowns in DC. Dodd, frank, schumer, Obama.

Posted by: king_of_zouk | March 18, 2009 10:39 AM | Report abuse

" We have ushered in the era of utter incompetance -"

that's exactly right, zouk. The consequences of movement conservatism = utter anarchy, lawlessness, greed, and pandemonium.

Posted by: drindl | March 18, 2009 10:38 AM | Report abuse

Yikes, what is up at the Washington Post? How can you write about the bonuses and not mention Sen. Dodd!?!?!?!? "While the Senate constructed the $787 billion stimulus last month, Dodd unexpectedly added an executive-compensation restriction to the bill. That amendment provides an “exception for contractually obligated bonuses agreed on before Feb. 11, 2009,” which exempts the very AIG bonuses Dodd and others are seeking to tax. The amendment is in the final version and is law.
Also, Sen. Dodd was AIG’s largest single recipient of campaign donations during the 2008 election cycle with $103,100, according to opensecrets.org. http://www.foxbusiness.com/story/markets/industries/finance/dodd-cracks-aig---time/
"
I think that this is very important information as to how we got into this mess. Its no accident that AIG paid out the bonuses…they had the full support of a Senator and the Congress that passed the bill in haste and the President who signed it. How can you miss this? Are you (the WP) still trying to protect Obama?

Posted by: lostein | March 18, 2009 10:37 AM | Report abuse

"Call me a cockeyed optimist, but I suspect that when confronted with the prospect of a bankruptcy and a prolonged and public investigation, the sharpies in London and Connecticut might have been receptive to the idea of renegotiating those bonuses in favor of new contracts..."

Thank you for that quote, Mark. I suspect you might be right. good old andrew Cuomo here in NY is launching a criminal investigation, I beleive, and I have a feeling that the Masters of the Universe at AIG might possibly start thinking that perhaps US taxpayers are more deserving of those bonuses than they are.

What we need to do is GREATLY expand regulation and oversight of the financial industry and when we see the kind of abuse and negligence that occured here -- punish it swiftly and savagely, make a statement that we will not tolerate this.

This culture of entitlement and corruption has to end. It's time for these leeches to stop sucking America's blood and pony up.

Posted by: drindl | March 18, 2009 10:36 AM | Report abuse

Does Baucus have time now?
In the stimulus bill last month, the final language actually makes an exception for pre-existing contracts, effectively exempting AIG. ... Multiple Senate Democratic leadership sources also deny knowing how the exemption got into the bill. ... The idea was stripped from the stimulus bill during hurried, closed-door negotiations with the White House and House of Representatives. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus ... made a stunning admission. 'Frankly it was such a rush -- we're talking about the stimulus bill now -- to get it passed, I didn't have time and other conferees didn't have time to address many of the provisions that were modified significantly,' said Baucus.'

Posted by: sasha2008 | March 18, 2009 10:22 AM | Report abuse

1987 PEOPLE!
According to the NEW CEO of AIG-
That is when AIG started its CRIMINAL behavior!

1987 !!!!
Too far back for you to look into?

Posted by: sasha2008 | March 18, 2009 10:21 AM | Report abuse

I think a popsickle stand is about the most that barry/ turbo tim should be supervising.

Today we hear Acorn will be running the census. And nancy wants to save illegal jobs. So it's not just stupidity and incompetance it is also fraud and lawlessness. Aka lib governance.

Posted by: king_of_zouk | March 18, 2009 10:18 AM | Report abuse

Pearlstein today argues that Liddy bears much responsibility here. But he offers a scenario for bargaining that could turn out to be the ultimate test of whether we need stricter gun control laws in America. So far, I would argue that we do not. From Pearlstein, although he was trying to make a different point:

"Moreover, the Justice Department would surely have been within its rights to launch an extensive civil and criminal investigation into whether those bonuses were granted as part of an ongoing conspiracy to defraud shareholders -- a conspiracy in which the traders were knowing participants. As part of that investigation, prosecutors could have also prepared a public report to the Treasury, the Federal Reserve and Congress listing the names and home addresses of all the traders who were slated to receive the bonuses, along with a detailed description of their role in creating the mess that brought down the company. There could even be a chart listing their salaries, bonuses and other perks over the past decade.

Call me a cockeyed optimist, but I suspect that when confronted with the prospect of a bankruptcy and a prolonged and public investigation, the sharpies in London and Connecticut might have been receptive to the idea of renegotiating those bonuses in favor of new contracts..."

Posted by: mark_in_austin | March 18, 2009 10:18 AM | Report abuse

If pols had done this to France, it would be a giant joke. But since libs did it to America, they cover and back peddle to continue the lie. We have ushered in the era of utter incompetance - Obamanomics.

Posted by: king_of_zouk | March 18, 2009 10:06 AM | Report abuse

It’s amazing the outrage from the 2 guys who got the largest “bonuses” (political contributions) from AIG, Obama and Dodd.

Posted by: leapin | March 18, 2009 9:49 AM | Report abuse

These dirtbag commies knew about the bonuses all of the time. Now, their sorry, hypocritical as$es want to be your heros. I have never been more dissappointed, ashamed and angry with any regime since old enough to follow politics. Never, never will I vote for another Democrat. NEVER!!!

Posted by: lclifton | March 18, 2009 9:45 AM | Report abuse

Hope the press gaggle keeps up with its "who knew what and when did they know [it]" questions.

Posted by: laloomis | March 18, 2009 9:18 AM | Report abuse

EXTRAJUDICIAL TARGETING AND PUNISHMENT OF AMERICAN BREADWINNERS AND THEIR FAMILIES:

THE UNTOLD STORY BEHIND THE ECONOMIC MELTDOWN.

***

TEAM OBAMA: WHAT DO YOUR BUSH HOLDOVERS KNOW ABOUT THESE ONGOING SECURITY-INTEL-REVENUE 'MULTI-AGENCY COORDINATED ACTIONS'...

* Silent, covert microwave radiation weapons (D.E.W.) assaults on innocent but "targeted" U.S. citizens;

* Terroristic vigilante community gang stalking, surreptitious home entry, police-tolerated vandalism;

* Secret federal "programs of personal financial destruction" that have used the IRS as an ideological tool of "social cleansing."


http://www.nowpublic.com/world/gestapo-usa-govt-funded-vigilante-network-terrorizes-america
http://www.nowpublic.com/world/domestic-torture-radiation-weaponry-americas-horrific-shame

OR (if links are corrupted / disabled):

http://www.NowPublic.com/scrivener

Posted by: scrivener50 | March 18, 2009 9:15 AM | Report abuse

Elephants have a very selective memory. My memory of six months ago when this bail-out got going was that Barney Franks and Carl Levin wanted to have lots of strings and oversight. My memory was that Bush would not night sign a bill that did not allow “maximum” flexibility to the Bush administration. My memory was that Paulson and Bush would not even consider limiting executive compensation. The blame for this outrage belongs with Bush and the Republicans, not with Obama who got another farewell gift from the Bush Administration.

Posted by: bradcpa

And donkeys are known for braying nothing: your selective memory has enabled you to forget the Barney Franks fights against tighter regulation of Fannie Mae when he was sleeping with one of its executives or Chris Dodd fighting against regulation of insurance companies like AIG headquartered in his own state or Chuckie Schumer fighting tighter regulation of Wall Street. You are part of the problem if you think that this state of affairs was caused by one party or the other.

Posted by: Ethicist | March 18, 2009 8:59 AM | Report abuse

Put simply, the AIG could learn a things or two from a little boy called Zane, who sacrifised his birthday presents to feed 1000 hungry school children: http://bit.ly/BMlpF

There's a beautiful lesson in there...

Posted by: rowenravera | March 18, 2009 8:55 AM | Report abuse

CC wrote:

"Say What?: "That's ridiculous. That has no merit in fact or by any measurement." -- Former Nebraska Republican senator Chuck Hagel on the "Rachel Maddow Show" when asked about former vice president Dick Cheney's comment that the policies of the Obama administration had made America less safe."

This is a statement that is direct and straightforward and it is good that it was made by an avowed friend of the military and former tank commander about the views of the'Nam era slacker whose implementation of the unitary executive was an affront to constitutional gvernment in our nation.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | March 18, 2009 8:28 AM | Report abuse

Elephants have a very selective memory. My memory of six months ago when this bail-out got going was that Barney Franks and Carl Levin wanted to have lots of strings and oversight. My memory was that Bush would not night sign a bill that did not allow “maximum” flexibility to the Bush administration. My memory was that Paulson and Bush would not even consider limiting executive compensation. The blame for this outrage belongs with Bush and the Republicans, not with Obama who got another farewell gift from the Bush Administration.

Posted by: bradcpa | March 18, 2009 8:26 AM | Report abuse

No one should care what Republicans think about the effort being made to clean up the bed they soiled. Republicans are irrelevant at best.

That said, Democrats better be pretty darn careful handling all the sunshine. It is a wonderful disinfectant...and it burns.

All the transparency we see nowadays is a good thing (you know crony capitalism is a greater threat to this country than terrorists, don't you?), but it is something neither side is used to.

Posted by: shrink2 | March 18, 2009 7:45 AM | Report abuse

The most serious issue for Obama is what the administration knew and when they knew it.

http://www.political-buzz.com/

Posted by: parkerfl1 | March 18, 2009 7:41 AM | Report abuse

All this hoopla about clawbacks is a huge distraction from the AIG problem we must fix, which after all is but one strand in the bigger Gordian knot we are trying to untangle. Elected officials clamoring for tax penalties while trying to make political hay will, once the courts untie the knot they are determined to loop, look like a bunch of amateur fools. Has anyone examined all the policy directives and work agreements to which these bonus recipients are bound as well as the legal restraints under which they were working when creating those exotic instruments? Unleash the Federal dogs of war on the 25% who left AIG, and in less than a Washington minuet the ones remaining will be voluntarily returning their bonuses in return for the pledge not to pursue civil and criminal penalties.

Posted by: kedsony | March 18, 2009 7:11 AM | Report abuse

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