Archive for the ‘bonuses’ Category

Obama Wants To Take Over Companies; Complains Congress Might Take Too Long

March 24, 2009

President Barack Obama says he hopes “it doesn’t take too long” for Congress to approve new authority to oversee financial firms — and even take them over by the Federal Government if they are in economic trouble.

The president made the remark in the Oval office Tuesday afternoon, March 24, 2009.

The administration is pushing the idea of an overarching regulator, such as the Federal Reserve, to have the ability to take over nonbank financial entities whose failure could topple the entire financial system.

Congress has gotten us into trouble recently by rushing through important legislation or hearings.

The congress held no hearing on the president’s stimulus spending measure — with many member saying they didn’t have time to read it.

The stimulus assured AIG that it had the authority to pay bonuses.

Then the House last week rushed to vote a 90% tax on those same bonuses….an idea that could be unconstitutional…. and is certainly questionable….

Most fast legislation is very bad legislation, in our experience….

 Geithner Wants To Seize Troubled Businesses: “By What Authority in the Constitution?”

Obama “Strongly Approve” Number from 42% to 36% in Last 60 Days; Geithner 24% Or Less

See Michelle:
http://michellemalkin.com/2009/03/24/the-sen
ate-shows-a-little-sense-confiscatory-republica
ns-show-no-shame/

Related:
http://www.frugal-cafe.com/public_html/frugal-
blog/frugal-cafe-blogzone/2009/03/21/wait-ha
ste-made-the-mess-sen-kyl-blocks-aig-punish
ment-bill-to-allow-level-headed-review/

US President Barack Obama (R) speaks with Australian Prime Minister ... 
US President Barack Obama (R) speaks with Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC. Obama said Tuesday he hoped to partner with Rudd for “years to come” after forging a “meeting of the minds” in their first White House talks.  During this meeting, Obama told reporters, he hopes “it doesn’t take too long” for Congress to approve new authority to oversee financial firms .(AFP/Jim Watson)
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This Time: Obama Woos Wall Street For Support

March 24, 2009

The Obama administration, after months of criticizing Wall Street, has been scrambling to woo top bankers and financiers to back its latest bailout plan.

By MONICA LANGLEY
The Wall Street Journal

In recent days, in spite of public furor over huge bonuses paid at American International Group Inc., the administration has concluded that it needs the private sector to play a central role in fixing the economy. So over the weekend, the White House worked to tone down its Wall Street bashing and to win support from top bankers for the bailout plan announced Monday, which will rely on public-private investments to soak up toxic assets.

But weeks of searing criticism by politicians and the public had left bankers leery of working with the government. After brainstorming about what to do about that problem, the White House resolved to try to take control of the debate, according to several administration officials. In weekend television appearances, President Barack Obama and other administration officials tempered their criticisms of the financial sector.

Read the rest:
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1
23785266231219605.html

White House “Over Reach” On AIG, Now Pulls Back

March 24, 2009

President Barack Obama is trying to dampen a fire he once stoked, urging a more tempered response to public furor over bonuses paid to executives of the publicly rescued insurance giant American International Group.

By CHARLES BABINGTON, Associated Press

Obama is virtually certain to use Tuesday’s prime-time news conference to continue an effort that began over the weekend: cooling the anti-AIG ferocity, now that it threatens to undermine his efforts to bail out the nation’s deeply troubled financial sector.

Obama’s tone changed dramatically after the House voted last week for targeted taxes to take back most of the $165 million in bonuses paid to AIG executives. Many lawmakers felt Obama had encouraged their step, because he called the bonuses reckless, outrageous and unjustified.

In the White House, however, the situation seemed to be spinning out of control. Some fellow Democrats questioned the constitutionality and wisdom of the House’s action. Executives of other troubled companies signaled they would not make deals with a federal government that revises agreements after they are signed.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20
090324/ap_on_go_pr_wh/obama

Senate Dems Back Away From AIG Bonus Tax; Cuomo Says Bonuses Returned “Voluntarily”

March 24, 2009

Rank-and-file Senate Democrats on Monday helped put the brakes on their own congressional leaders’ frenzied dash to enact new taxes to take back executive bonuses at bailed-out Wall Street firms.

By S. A. Miller
The WashingtonTimes

Democratic defectors echoed President Obama‘s and business leaders’ concerns about the tax bill’s legality and chilling effect on struggling financial firms. Critics said the tax penalty could scare banks from participating in the Treasury plan announced Monday to buy toxic assets in order to unfreeze credit markets.

“I think the president is right. We shouldn’t be making decisions here out of anger,” said Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad, referring to comments Mr. Obama made Sunday on CBS’ “60 Minutes” urging a more deliberate approach.

New York Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo said Monday evening that some employees at American International Group Inc., the company whose bonuses have drawn the ire of Congress and the public, will voluntarily give back the money. AIG is under fire for paying $165 million in bonuses while being kept afloat with a $170 billion infusion from the government.

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/20
09/mar/24/senate-democrats-puts-brake
s-on-fast-track-bonus-t/

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Cuomo Says AIG Execs Will Return Bonuses “Voluntarily”

By MARY WILLIAMS WALSH and CARL HULSE
The New York Times

The New York State attorney general, Andrew M. Cuomo, said on Monday that he had persuaded nine of the top 10 bonus recipients at the American International Group to give the money back, as the Senate retreated on plans to tax such bonuses.

Read the rest:
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/24/b
usiness/24bonus.html?_r=1&hp

Republicans Must Hang Together, or One By One

March 23, 2009

“We must all hang together, or most assuredly we shall all hang separately.”

Didn’t Ben Franklin say that in the dawning days of our nation?  Back then, the King of England could really use the noose.

Today, the Republicans in congress might need some reminders that they’ll still die election deaths if they keep going down the road they are on.

Last week’s vote in the House to impose a 90% tax on those getting AIG bonus money is a good example of Republicans failing to vote against a brainless but popular idea of the majority — and miss an opportunity to explain why the majority might be making bad law.

Eighty five Republicans joined the “public outrage” instead of engaging their brains and asking, “What should principled Republicans suggest?”

Hint: we are against taxes.  Especially confiscatory taxes: no matter how bad a guy we are chasing.  And we are against making laws, especially tax laws, to punish.  And we think the House should stay millions of miles from any legislation that even might be unconstitutional.

Last week there were lots of tagets beside AIG employees: Senator Dodd, among them.

You dogs chased the wrong car.  You joined ACORN in vilifying AIG employees who had signs reading “Capitalism is organized crime.”

And Republicans in the House, you added your names to a witch hunt that was border-line lawlessness.


ACORN activists at the homes of AIG executives on Saturday

Arch liberal Bush hater Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) was on the conservative Fox News Channel awhile back to say, “Our country is being looted.”

If he can get this: so can all Republicans.

This is time for Republicans to stand united or die trying.  And for some that are on the fence like Maine’s Snowe and Collins and Arlen Specter of the Keystone state: we say adieu or seppuku.

Looks like Specter will leave the GOP anyway….

Health care?  Good luck: but try to stand united. If we can’t afford it, maybe we can’t afford it.  But make your care.

Schools should be federalized and the White House is writing the legislation?  No brainer.  Money has rarely made schools better but has often enriched bad teachers and entrenched unions.

Spending at the rate of $1 billion an hour?  Unsustainable generational theft.  Even China is worried.

Energy: are you with Al Gore or against him?

Foreign policy?  Do you believe Iran, China, North Korea and the Taliban will play nice?  Sending videos will do, do you think?

Terrorism: a word Obama has removed from the lexicon, is still maybe a threat?  What say you?

What happened to drill, baby, drill?  Too hot to even discuss now?  We shall ignore all our natural resources and be the wind powered nation?  When? At what cost and when will the grid be ready?

Corruption: Republicans want an end of corruption and total truth and honesty in government.  Right?  Pass a new Dodd Law that prohibits his kind of conduct.  Better yet: pass a law punishing those that don’t even read legislative proposals and then vote for them.

Time to ressurect the Newt style contract with what’s remaining of America before it is too late guys and gals….

DO NOT allow Rahm Emanuel to define you.  You are not Rush and maybe you are not Steele.  Abortion still matters?

Time to unite.

Or hang one by one.

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Politico Defines Republicans

Watching the various spats among conservatives, it’s difficult to tell whether one is witnessing a series of lively political disagreements or an episode of “Monday Night Raw.” 

In one corner, there’s former Bush administration speechwriter David Frum versus talk radio king Rush Limbaugh. In another ring, Limbaugh is taking on former House speaker-turned-conservative guru Newt Gingrich. And in the Royal Rumble, Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele is battling, well, pretty much everybody in the GOP

Liberals have shown no small measure of delight in this fracas, and understandably so. Taking political advantage of conservative fratricide makes perfect sense, as it’s the strategic execution of Henry Kissinger’s observation about the Iran-Iraq War: “It’s a pity both sides can’t lose.” Fueling the intra-party fire weakens the GOP from within. Even the White House has gotten in on the act with senior figures like spokesperson Robert Gibbs and chief of staff Rahm Emanuel launching attacks on administration critics ranging from Limbaugh to CNBC personalities Rick Santelli and Jim Cramer

But as liberals engage in multiple rounds of schadenfreude over conservative wrangling, what’s noticeable is that the burgeoning civil war we’re witnessing on the right could not play out on the left, at least not rise to the level of gravity that would attract front-page articles in Newsweek or the instigation of partisans on the other side. And that’s because liberals — unlike conservatives — do not have a “movement” over which to fight. 

Given the Barack Obama phenomenon, the rise of the liberal blogosphere and overwhelming Democratic congressional majorities, the proposition that liberals lack a movement might sound strange. But while the Republican Party comprises three steadfast pillars (free marketers, defense hawks and the religious right), the Democratic Party remains a coalition of a vast and diverse assemblage of interest groups (minorities, labor unions, academics, trial lawyers, etc.) rather than an ideological enterprise. As such, the Democrats, up until very recently, have long had more intense internal squabbling than the Republicans, whose various factions learned to reconcile. 

The conservative movement began to take form in the 1950s as a reaction to the then-regnant statist consensus. It was firmly anti-communist, opposed the New Deal and the further expansion of government programs, and later launched a harsh critique on many of the social changes that took place in the 1960s and 1970s. What further distinguishes the conservative movement from the liberal coalition is that conservatives built an array of institutions to sustain their ideological apparatus. In Washington and across the country, there exists a constellation of think tanks, like the Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute. In the 1980s, conservatives took to the airwaves and now attract tens of millions of listeners every day on talk radio. Perhaps the most important feature of the movement was its recruitment of young people through organizations like Young America’s Foundation, which identifies and trains conservative students on campuses across the country. 

To see the vitality — if not reasonableness — of the movement, one only had to visit last month’s Conservative Political Action Conference, an annual ritual that attracts conservative activists, politicians and celebrities from across the country. There is no liberal equivalent of this confab. Indeed, the relative influence of the conservative movement on the GOP versus any liberal parallel on the Democratic Party can be seen in the vast number of Republican politicians who proudly call themselves “conservative.” By contrast, few Democrats publicly identify themselves as “liberal,” opting for the more vague and voguish “progressive,” if at all.

Liberals are belatedly constructing themselves a movement akin to the one crafted by their ideological adversaries. In 2003, John Podesta founded the Center for American Progress, a partisan think tank explicitly modeled on Heritage. Media Matters aggressively attacks any perceived anti-liberal media bias in the same way that conservative watchdog groups have been monitoring the mainstream press since the 1980s. POLITICO’s Ben Smith has reported on the daily conference call in which the heads of more than 20 major liberal interest groups participate to shape a coherent message for the day, as well as Unity ’09, a coalition of groups ranging from MoveOn.org to the American Civil Liberties Union “aimed at helping President Obama push his agenda through Congress.” Never before have the disparate organizations of the American left been so well-coordinated.

Does the nascent liberal movement portend good or ill? Judging that question depends in part upon whether or not one agrees with the agenda. If scaling back American commitments overseas, increasing the power of unions, and building a more left-leaning Supreme Court, among other goals, of course, are your thing, then the means by which these ends are achieved will presumably matter less than their attainment.

But the answer also lies in whether or not movement politics is itself a healthy feature of the American electoral system. There is something ironic in the tendency of liberals to denounce the staleness and conformity of the conservative movement and relish in its apparent demise while constructing something of their own that is just as ideologically rigid.

James Kirchick is an assistant editor of The New Republic.

 See Michelle Malkin:
http://michellemalkin.com/2009/03/23/a
-question-for-the-85-cya-on-aig-house-rep
ublicans/

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There’s More Room For Rahm In AIG Bonus Abomination

March 23, 2009

With the nation in what the president has called a financial “crisis” and even a “catastrophe,” Obama is moving away from his top financial advisors at least on some issues, and sticking close to the advice of White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and policy advisor David Axelrod.

“Those guys know politics.  They are listening to the Hill and watching the media and the polls.  That’s driving Obama’s policy right now,” a top political analyst told us.

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From The American Spectator:

Over the past ten days, as the furor over AIG retention plan bonuses has focused on Sen. Chris Dodd and Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner, the White House has undertaken a PR offensive to protect the highest ranking Obama Administration official who was involved in the House and Senate negotiations over the stimulus bill, in which the AIG waiver language was inserted.

“Right now, you get the feeling this is all about protecting [White House Chief of Staff] Rahm Emanuel,” says a former Treasury Department lawyer, who worked in that department’s counsel’s office on the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) before joining a D.C.-based law firm in February. “At the time, we were led to believe there were basically three or four people from the Administration at the table when the final deals were cut and one of them was Emanuel.”

Informal advisers to Geithner are growing increasingly frustrated, they say, that Geithner is being held up as the straw man for the public anger over the bonuses. “Just over the weekend you saw a new guy added to the target list, [White House economics adviser Larry] Summers,” says a longtime Geithner colleague at the New York Fed. “You have Dodd, Geithner, Summers, but there were other, more senior political people involved in this mess, and their names aren’t being mentioned. Why isn’t anyone asking Rahm Emanuel, ‘What meetings were you in?’ ‘What did you and the President know and when did you know it?’ Tim has some culpability, but he’s not the guy who signed off on the Dodd language. He wasn’t that empowered to do something like that.”

Yesterday, Obama supporter and New York Times columnist Frank Rich fingered Summers as a key player in the AIG bonus mess. “Summers is so tone-deaf that he makes Geithner seem like Bobby Kennedy,” Rich wrote.

Summers currently serves as head of the National Economic Council in the White House, and has been mentioned as someone who might be forced to return to the Secretary of the Treasury post he once held in the Clinton Administration should Geithner not survive the political storm he finds himself in.

It isn’t just Rich, though, who has placed Summers in the center of the controversy. Last week, Sen. Ron Wyden, who was led to believe that language he was inserting into the stimulus bill, which would have heavily taxed such payouts as the retention bonuses, told reporters that it was the “Obama economic team” that stripped his and Sen. Olympia Snowe‘s provision from the bill. When he was asked about who he dealt with during the February negotiations over his language, he said, “Secretary Geithner, Larry Summers, and I’ll leave it at that.” He declined to name other names, though he indicated to reporters present that he was aware of others in the negotiations.

Senior Democrat leadership aides in both the House and Senate, however, insist that both Emanuel and Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orszag were present at the meetings where the decision was made to strip out the bonus taxation language and insert the Dodd waiver.

Read the rest:
http://spectator.org/archives/2009/0
3/23/plenty-of-rahm-at-the-aig-tabl

Visit Michelle Malkin:
http://michellemalkin.com/2009/03
/23/tarp-taxpayers-accounts-recycle
d-to-politicians/

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Politicians Who Took AIG Money Should Give It Back

Two-out-of-three Americans (67%) believe that politicians who received campaign contributions from American International Group (AIG) should return the money. The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey found that just 21% disagree and 13% are not sure.

The belief that the politicians should give back the money is shared by a solid majority of every measured demographic group except one – America’s Political Class. In that elite group, just 29% think the contributions should be returned while 63% reject that idea.

Among America’s Populists, 77% believe the campaign cash should be returned, and only 14% disagree. Most Americans have Populist attitudes. and their perspective can reasonably be considered the perspective of Mainstream America.

http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_conte
nt/politics/general_politics/67_say_politician
s_should_give_back_aig_contributions_polit
ical_class_disagrees

Senate Banking Committee Chairman Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn. ...
Dodd took more AIG money than anyone.  Obama was second. 

Obama threw Dodd under the bus:
http://nobamablog.wordpress.com/200
9/03/23/obama-sells-out-a-friend-fro
m-connecticut/

Related:
Did Obama White House Fuel AIG Bonus Mess To Enact Tougher Rules With Public Support, “Outrage”?

Financial Advice, Recovery, Trumped by Obama, Congress, Media, Polls

Geithner Aides Worked With AIG for Months on Bonuses

March 23, 2009

Since the fall, senior aides to Timothy Geithner have closely dealt with American International Group Inc. on compensation issues including bonuses, both from his time as president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and as Treasury secretary.

By MICHAEL M. PHILLIPS and SUDEEP REDDY
The Wall Street Journal

The extent of their involvement, which wasn’t widely known, raises fresh questions about whether Mr. Geithner could have known earlier about AIG’s $165 million in bonus payments. When the bonuses sparked a political firestorm last week, Mr. Geithner said he learned about their full scope in early March, just days before they were paid.

Mr. Geithner and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke will be grilled by Congress on Tuesday in a hearing that is likely to focus heavily on AIG. The flap has prompted lawmakers to seek curbs on an array of bonuses, tested the Obama administration and undermined Mr. Geithner’s standing as he attempts to implement measures to stabilize the financial system.

Treasury officials say the department’s staff kept Mr. Geithner in the dark until March 10. “Secretary Geithner, who has been actively engaged in shaping and executing the president’s broad economic agenda, takes full responsibility for not being aware of these programs” before that date, Treasury spokesman Isaac Baker said Sunday in a written response to questions.

This account of how Mr. Geithner and his aides were apprised of the AIG bonuses was based on interviews with government officials, lawmakers and congressional testimony.

Read the rest:
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB12377
7083390610069.html?mod=article-o
utset-box

Obama, Dodd and Faked “Outrage”

March 23, 2009

Are you outraged by these AIG bonuses? No, no. For Pete’s sake, you’re an A-list congressional bigshot. Try to get a bit of feeling into ?outraged.? The president’s teleprompter puts it in italics, bold, capitalized and underlined — OUTRAGED!

That’s better. Don’t forget to furrow your brow and fume. No, not like a camp waiter when you send back the arugula salad drizzled in an aubergine coulis. We’re looking for primal, righteous anger: You’re outraged, OUTRAGED that bonuses are being handed out at companies the American taxpayer is bailing out.

By Mark Steyn
The Washington Post

Yes, to be sure, the bonuses were specifically provided for in the legislation, but, like all busy senators and congressmen, you don’t have time to read every footling trillion-dollar bill before you vote in favor of it.

And yes, true, the specific passage addressing these particular bonuses was, in fact, added to the bill in your name, but that was nothing to do with you. You just did that because the White House asked you to. And just because their people called your people and some intern in your office drafted some boilerplate with your name on it…

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtontimes.com/ne
ws/2009/mar/23/steyn-shocked-sh
ocked-bonuses/

VP adviser: AIG bonus tax may go too far

March 22, 2009

Vice President Joe Biden‘s economic adviser warned Sunday that a congressional plan to tax American International Group Inc. executives’ bonuses may go too far in using the tax code as a tool for retribution.

President Barack Obama has not said whether he would veto some version of a House-backed plan to heavily tax the $165 million in bonuses. Biden economist Jared Bernstein said it’s important to look at what version of the proposal comes out of the Senate.

“I think the president would be concerned that this bill may have some problems in going too far — the House bill may go too far in terms of some — some legal issues, constitutional validity, using the tax code to surgically punish a small group,” Bernstein said in a television interview. “That may be a dangerous way to go.”

Democratic and Republican leaders in the Senate also have expressed concern about the plan’s approach to dealing with the AIG bonuses.

American International Group received billions in taxpayer dollars to keep its doors open but still paid employees the bonuses their contracts required. Populist anger led the House to impose a 90 percent tax on bonuses paid this year to companies that needed government bailout money.

Obama and his top advisers called the bonuses outrageous and condemned them. Bernstein said the administration must be focused on the big picture, not just one company.

“What happened at AIG, vis-a-vis these bonuses, is a symptom of a much larger problem,” he said. “And we cannot lose sight of the larger problem, which is stabilizing financial markets,”

Bernstein appeared on ABC’s “This Week.”

Obama’s Katrina Moment Is Here Now

March 22, 2009

A CHARMING visit with Jay Leno won’t fix it. A 90 percent tax on bankers’ bonuses won’t fix it. Firing Timothy Geithner won’t fix it. Unless and until Barack Obama addresses the full depth of Americans’ anger with his full arsenal of policy smarts and political gifts, his presidency and, worse, our economy will be paralyzed. It would be foolish to dismiss as hyperbole the stark warning delivered by Paulette Altmaier of Cupertino, Calif., in a letter to the editor published by The Times last week: “President Obama may not realize it yet, but his Katrina moment has arrived.”

By Frank Rich
The New York Times
.
Six weeks ago I wrote in this space that the country’s surge of populist rage could devour the president’s best-laid plans, including the essential Act II of the bank rescue, if he didn’t get in front of it. The occasion then was the Tom Daschle firestorm. The White House seemed utterly blindsided by the public’s revulsion at the moneyed insiders’ culture illuminated by Daschle’s post-Senate career. Yet last week’s events suggest that the administration learned nothing from that brush with disaster.

Otherwise it never would have used Lawrence Summers, the chief economic adviser, as a messenger just as the A.I.G. rage was reaching a full boil last weekend. Summers is so tone-deaf that he makes Geithner seem like Bobby Kennedy.

Bob Schieffer of CBS asked Summers the simple question that has haunted the American public since the bailouts began last fall: “Do you know, Dr. Summers, what the banks have done with all of this money that has been funneled to them through these bailouts?” What followed was a monologue of evasion that, translated into English, amounted to: Not really, but you little folk needn’t worry about it.

Yet even as Summers spoke, A.I.G. was belatedly confirming what he would not. It has, in essence, been laundering its $170 billion in taxpayers’ money by paying off its reckless partners in gambling and greed, from Goldman Sachs and Citigroup on Wall Street to Société Générale and Deutsche Bank abroad.

Summers was even more highhanded in addressing the “retention bonuses” handed to the very employees who brokered all those bad bets. After reciting the requisite outrage talking point, he delivered a patronizing lecture to viewers of ABC’s “This Week” on how our “tradition of upholding law” made it impossible to abrogate the bonus agreements. It never occurred to Summers that Americans might know that contracts are renegotiated all the time — most conspicuously of late by the United Automobile Workers, which consented to givebacks as its contribution to the Detroit bailout plan. Nor did he note, for all his supposed reverence for the law, that the A.I.G. unit being rewarded with these bonuses is now under legal investigation by British and American authorities.

Within 24 hours, Summers’s stand was discarded by Obama, who tardily (and impotently) vowed to “pursue every single legal avenue” to block the bonuses. The question is not just why the White House was the last to learn about bonuses that Democratic congressmen had sought hearings about back in December, but why it was so slow to realize that the public’s anger couldn’t be sated by Summers’s legalese or by constant reiteration of the word outrage. By the time Obama acted, even the G.O.P. leader Mitch McConnell was ahead of him in full (if hypocritical) fulmination.

David Axelrod tried to rationalize the lagging response when he told The Washington Post last week that “people are not sitting around their kitchen tables thinking about A.I.G.,” but are instead “thinking about their own jobs.” While that’s technically true, it misses the point. Of course most Americans don’t know how A.I.G. brought the world’s financial system to near-ruin or what credit-default swaps are. They may not even know what A.I.G. stands for. But Americans do make the connection between their fears about their own jobs and their broad understanding of the A.I.G. debacle.

They know that the corporate bosses who may yet lay them off have sometimes been as obscenely overcompensated for failure as Wall Street’s bonus babies. As The Wall Street Journal reported last week, chief executives at businesses as diverse as Texas Instruments and the home builder Hovnanian Enterprises have received millions in bonuses even as their companies’ shares have lost more than half their value.

Since Americans get the big picture of this inequitable system, that grotesque reality dwarfs any fine print. That’s why it doesn’t matter that the disputed bonuses at A.I.G. amount to less than one-tenth of one percent of its bailout. Or that CNBC — with 300,000 viewers on a typical day by Nielsen’s measure — is a relatively minor player in the crash. Or that Edward Liddy had nothing to do with A.I.G.’s collapse, or that John Thain, of the celebrated trash can, arrived after, not before, others wrecked Merrill Lynch.

These prominent players are just the handiest camera-ready triggers for the larger rage. Passions are now so hot that even Bernie Madoff’s crimes began to pale as we turned our attention to A.I.G.’s misdeeds, just as A.I.G. will fade when the next malefactor surfaces.

Read the rest:
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/
03/22/opinion/22rich.html?_r=1