If you are a fan of movies featuring a hero who steps forward to add courage, virtue and good thinking to a disaster to make things right; the AIG bonus flap will cause you disappointment and worry.
There are no leading men or heroes here. Just bad actors.
And the really worrisome point is this: the AIG bonus flap is about is just $165 million out of trillions of dollars now flowing through the decision makers in the White House, Congress, the Treasury and Federal Reserve.
The outrage expressed over the AIG bonuses is like being worried about one molecule on an elephant standing on your food and dying of cancer without medical attention.
The elephant is the economy and the poorly managed recovery so far. Money has been hemorrhaging out of the taxpayers’ coffers and into all kinds of hands you would never approve of — for months — and the president is preaching “transparency.”
The courage, virtue and good thinking so far has apparently only been delivered during carefully scripted TV appearances — and now even Obama and Biden are not allowed out of their bathrooms without telepromters.
The root cause of the AIG flap? The quickly executed and poorly cobbled together stimulus bill for starters. Nancy Pelosi’s stimulus bill. Chris Dodd, with help, undoubtedly, inserted language legalizing just the kind of bonuses AIG paid — so everyone who expressed “outrage” from the president on down is to blame for rushing through congress a hash bill of over $700 billion — and then blaming a company that thought they were doing the right thing, the legal thing, the thing they told the Fed about months ago.
And the president is going through the books line by line….
No “lawmaker” admitted to even reading the stimulus before making it a law: which should sound alarm bells that the White House the Congress and all else involved were into a stampede of good intentions which seldom yields good law. Even the lobbyists couldn’t keep up with the stimulus….
Then add poor performance on the part of those responsible for oversight.
What we have is a witches brew of White House, Congress, Treasury and Fed.
The problem is Obama, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Tim Geithner, Ben Bernanke and their many munchkins — not mean old AIG executives and lawyers and Wall Street — this time.
Politically, if history is any guide, “No Drama Obama” will continue to receive love and support from an adoring public and media: but he’s the one that slammed the stimulus down the throats of congress and he’s the one that picked Tim Geithner.
The president didn’t create the crisis but he fueled it and pushed hard for speedy action — not well thought out legislation.
We fault the president for not speaking the truth on this, which he is often not very good at.
But we still have hope, which the president often urges, that Barack Obama will come clean with the American people and tell them that the federal government screwed up and can, will and should do a lot better.
By firing Geithner the president can go a long way in quieting this storm. Standing by this Treasury Secretary just leaves a giant hunk of doubt, suspicion and guilt in the middle of the “recovery” that the president has said requires confidence.
And that doubt is now the elephant in the room.
John E. Carey
Wakefield Chapel, Virginia