First Draft: Monday’s blue mood — AIG outrage
It’s on front pages, news shows and all over the Web: outrage at the bailout of AIG, the troubled insurance giant that — so far — has gotten $173 billion in U.S. taxpayer money and has given out $165 million in bonuses to the very executives who brought the company to its knees.
A quick Web search of “AIG outrage” for March 2009 gets 190,000 hits, ranging from Al Jazeera (“Outrage against AIG set to mount”) to USA Today (“AIG bonus outrage plays Treasury officials for saps”). Part of the outrage stems from the Obama team’s contention that there’s nothing they can legally do to stop these bonus payments.
Barney Frank, a Massachusetts Democrat who heads the House Financial Services Committee, came up with a plan in an interview on NBC’s “Today”: AIG’s execs can keep their bonuses but they don’t have to keep their jobs. “These people may have a right to their bonuses but they don’t have a right to their jobs foever,” is how Frank put it.
At the White House, President Barack Obama and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner are set to talk with small business owners about a plan to make it easier for them to borrow money.
Outside the Beltway, the mood turns from outrage to madness — the college basketball kind of madness that comes in March when the NCAA unveils its tournament field. The national championship is April 6 in Detroit.
The American International Group building in New York, March 2, 2009 file photo. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton/Files
Duke’s guard Jon Scheyer (R) passes under the basket as Florida State guard Jordan DeMercy defends during men’s NCAA basketball action in Atlanta, Georgia March 15, 2009. REUTERS/Tami Chappell