Thursday, March 19, 2009

Broadway's got nothing on these guys

There is some fine play-acting going on in Washington these days. The prez and congress have perfected the emotion of social justice indignation. And they are getting the news coverage to go with it.

But lets step back and analyze this AIG executive bonus stuff. It really sells well these days because America loves the underdog. And poor old Uncle Sam is getting robbed by the big, bad corporations.

Well, the truth is that the bailout we were so anxious to sign before the economy fell apart altogether included a provision for bonuses. AIG had contracts with these executives and our bailout contract with AIG allowed for them to give these bonuses. Suddenly, everyone is a Robin Hood in DC.

The thing for congress to do is pull back any bailout money that has not been committed (if there is any) and rewrite the bill preventing bonuses for future bailout money. Instead they turn on the cameras and get subgovernment cranked up to fever pitch.

As for AIG they have taken the role of submissive servant, which is the PR move. They should have given details of the actual performance of these executives and why they earned it. For all we know these execs were actually the ones saving the company. And if I were AIG I'd remind them of the language of the bailout allowing them to pay the bonuses.

Geithner, Obama, Reid, Pelosi, Durbin...all the talking heads KNEW about these bonuses months ago and said nothing at the time. Suddenly they go ballistic. Why? Because the bailout didn't work. It backfired on them. And rather than admit to themselves (and America) that they were hasty and didn't understand what they were doing, they shine the spotlight on this issue.

Barney Franks drooling over the microphone to talk about bonuses for failure is the picture of hypocrasy. What say we pay congress based on their approval ratings? How about a congressman's base pay of $100K. Heck, make it $200K.

Then they get paid based on their approval rating. They ended 2008 at 20% so $200K x 20%= a salary of $40K/year for 2009. How do you like that, Barney? Sure, lets pay congress on performance.

Then there is this matter of Fannie Mae and Freddy Mack. Did anyone actually take away Barney's money for letting that mess take place on his watch? Did Barney Franks ever step in front of the camera and say he was going to work for $1 a year because he felt responsible for the subprime mortgage mess?

Instead we get this "Mistakes were made" excuse whenever Washington fails to detect the unintended consequences before it is too late.

And this federal interference in private business is the nightmare of Socialism we all hoped would never come but feared it would under Obama.

Like I say, they're not much when it comes to leadership, but they are great actors.

A very rich update: Sen. Chris Dodd finally comes clean and says that he and Treasury put the "bonus payment" wording in the stimulus bill to avoid legal entanglements over contract breeches for companies that didn't pay the agreed-to bonuses.

No comments:

Post a Comment