Archive for March 16th, 2009

Obama: ‘pursue every legal avenue’ to block AIG bonuses

Published: Monday March 16, 2009

UPDATE (at bottom): NY Attorney General subpoenas AIG

Obama coughed during his speech and joked, “Excuse me. I’m choked up with anger here.”

Responding to a populist firestorm over the news that AIG planned to pay out millions in bonuses to many of the executives viewed to be responsible for the firm’s near-collapse in 2008, President Obama announced he has directed Treasury Sec. Timothy Geithner to “pursue every legal avenue to block these bonuses” in embargoed remarks obtained by RAW STORY.

Noting the substantial sums AIG has received from the federal government, Obama said late Monday morning Geithner should use that leverage in pursuing a block of the bonuses.

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

He added that Geithner is working “to resolve this matter with the new CEO, Edward Liddy, who came on board after the contracts that led to these bonuses were agreed to last year.”

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

Barney Frank told NBC’s Meredith Vieira that he want to consider taking action against some of the AIG executives receiving bonuses. “These people may have a right to their bonuses, they don’t have a right to their jobs forever. The federal government is now an 80% owner. One of the things we can do to make sure this doesn’t happen again,” he said.

“We’ve got people who are so irresponsible. It does appear we’re rewarding incompetence. Forget about the legal matter. These bonuses are going to people who screwed this thing up enormously, who made terrible decisions,” said Frank.

If the bonus payments can’t be stopped then Frank wants to consider firing some executives. “Since the federal government — thanks to the Federal Reserve’s use of the power under the 70-year-old statute — now essentially owns the company, maybe it’s time to fire some people. We can’t keep them getting the bonuses, but we can keep some of them from continuing in their jobs,” he said.

UPDATE: Cuomo subpoenas AIG for executive bonus details

“New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo has issued a subpoena to American International Group Inc. seeking a list with the names of executives receiving bonuses,” reported Albany Business Review.


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Interviewed by John King on CNN’s State of the Union this weekend, former vice president Henry F. Potter Dick Cheney wasn’t really able to tell us why Republicans like himself should have any credibility whatsoever when it comes criticizing the Obama economic plan, considering how well theirs worked out.

Here’s how theirs worked out:

Here’s how Cheney explained it:

Well, there are all kinds of arguments to be made on that point. But there’s something that is more important than the specific numbers you’re talking about, and that had to be priority for our administration.

Eight months after we arrived, we had 9/11. We had 3,000 Americans killed one morning by al Qaeda terrorists here in the United States. We immediately had to go into the wartime mode. We ended up with two wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Some of that is still very active. We had major problems with respect to things like Katrina, for example. All of these things required us to spend money that we had not originally planned to spend, or weren’t originally part of the budget.

Stuff happens. And the administration has to be able to respond to that, and we did.

… We always said — I always said that wartime scenario is cause for an exception in terms of spending. It was appropriate in World War II, certainly, and I think it’s appropriate now.

So his excuse for the sour economy was 9/11 — which happened six years before the economy started heading south — and the Iraq invasion — which turned out not to have been quite as necessary as advertised.


Dick Cheney – CNN State of Union – John King part 1

Dick Cheney – CNN State of Union – John King part 2

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