Monday, March 16, 2009

AIG Bonus Money: Don't We Own These F---ers?

Here's what I just can't figure.

I may have some of the details wrong because I was working out on the West Coast when this whole thing went down (anyone remember Late Night from the Left Coast on BSB?), but it was my understanding that in exchange for the massive federal bailout of AIG, the federal government took 80% ownership in this enterprise. 

Which leads me to this question: don't we own these f---ers? And if we own then, it really ought to be a simple exercise to prevent the payout of the $165 million in bonuses that has the country up in arms. Just call a vote of the board of directors and that should be that. What's the problem here? I just don't get it. 

One more thing. If the reason we had to bailout AIG instead of letting them go kaput is because they were "too big to fail" without causing massive damage to our economy, then why isn't the government trying to break up not only AIG, but other firms that are "too big to fail?"

5 comments:

Jeff Lehner said...

Nick:

We have crossed intellectual swords many times. We obviously don't agree on much, but I always appreciate the debate.

So I wonder, what are your thoughts on this? It appears that President Obama and Senator Dodd have some explaining to do, no?

Tudor said...

Jeff, nice catch.

I had two thoughts foremost in my mind after looking at the chart of AIG political contributions. First, if the Republican-Socialist party was the majority and held the leadership positions in Congress, the D's and R's would have been reversed, with the R's getting the lion's share. Second, I don't know how you can look at this without a good measure of cynical disgust, regardless of party affiliation. Surprise, however, is not something that comes to mind.

Nick D said...

Jeff, my first thought on that was that the amount seems trivial in consideration of the hundreds of millions of dollars that President Obama raised and spent during his campaign last year.

My second thought, however, is that in order to avoid the appearance of impropriety, he should return it. As Paul LaMonica points out in this column on CNN Money AIG is likely to be a taxpayer/government headache throughout President Obama's first term in office, and he would do well to avoid even the appearance of AIG influence over his decision making.

Jeff Lehner said...

I actually agree. I'm not so much caught up on the money as I am the history of Dodd's amendment to the 'stimulus' bill and Obama's signing of it. Their outrage is manufactured.

As for the money part, I recall Mr. Obama making a lot of hay out of John McCain receiving campaign contributions from energy producers. You guys can't have it both ways, especially under these circumstances.

Jeff Lehner said...

Addendum:

My view on Fan/Fred money is a totally different story as these pseudo-government (aka taxpayer-funded) entities have been protected by campaign cash recipients for years...