Washington shocked Wall Streeters took money

March 18, 2009

Lawmakers were shocked, shocked, shocked that Wall Streeters at insurance firm AIG took bonuses with one hand while grabbing a government handout with the other.

They expressed outrage at a House financial services subcommittee hearing following public outcry that millions of dollars of retention bonuses were  given to employees at AIG while the floundering company used billions of dollars of taxpayer money to try to regain its footing.

Rep. Barney Frank wanted names, names, names, of those who took the bonuses, and he posted  AIG contracts (without the names) on the Web. Advisory: they’re full of legal-speak, not easily digestible for non-lawyers.


Rep. Gary Ackerman captured the emotion of the event: “Those of us who are laughing are crying,” he said. “There’s a lot of people trying to cover their bare assets.”

AIG chief executive Edward Liddy, who came out of retirement six months ago to take that job (which raises all sorts of other questions such as WHY would someone pick this over tee time?), started out with a line very familiar in Washington: “Mistakes were made.”

But it wasn’t just AIG under fire at the hearing. Protesters at the back of the hearing room held up signs saying “Fire Geithner” referring to the Treasury Secretary who was not there.

The women in pink in turn got yelled at by Rep. Paul Kanjorski who ordered them to surrender their signs or be removed from the hearing room.  They handed over the pink signs without much fuss.

Click here for more Reuters political coverage

Photo credit: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque (AIG’s Liddy interacts with protesters at hearing)


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I just wonder how many people actually know what the contracts say or do they just whine for the sake of whining? Last I checked if you enter into a binding contract and you get funds to execute that contract you are required by LAW to fulfill that.

If Obama/congress wanted to prevent AIG from spending the money to run its business why did they give them the money in the first place? or better yet why didn’t it have a provision against it?

What they are trying to do now (with the proposed surtax and demanding the money back) is BLATANTLY unAmerican and someone in congress should go to jail for the revocation of basic rights.

Posted by Ben | Report as abusive

i was raised by parents who believed in face value,perhaps a simplistic term in these complicated times,but what it meant was if look carefully at someone, their integrity is written on their faces.if you have had the experience of buying a secondhand car,there is normally an acute scrutiny of the sales person, who is negotiating the proposed deal.my point is ,in all honesty how many of us would have been at ease if we had pulled up at a lot and chuck and chris had being standing there ready to make a sale?

Posted by brian lee | Report as abusive

Yeah Ben – we all know that. Tell us something we don’t know. We went to school too. But try buying a stolen painting and when the Feds come to recover it say I have a contract from the seller.

The revenues and P&L at AIG were bogus. It was essentially fraudulent – so NO BONUS. We own the company and I expect to pay a bonus when there is legitimate performance.

Posted by Joe | Report as abusive

I’m SHOCKED, SHOCKED I tell you!
As a taxpayer, I am not only shocked that “Washington” is shocked at the AIG bonuses, but also at the fact that the same Congressional numbskulls voted themselves a raise.
Must have something to do with a performance bonus for the great job they have been doing.
As for the apologists like Ben: Nonsense. That kind of specious argument is so target-rich it seems unfair to bother to attack it. But anyway…
As Mark Twain said: Never argue with a fool; people might not know the difference.

Posted by nostupidideas | Report as abusive

I am outraged as well, with our Congressional misfits, allowing for such a global meltdown.

Just look at the present “grandstanding” ocurring in Washington. Both parties are unbelievable. Sen. Grassley today demanding a “Congressional inquiry” into some Dems regarding this matter. I ask, Mr. Grassley, what about an inquiry into the Repub senator whose WIFE is one of the AIG execs? And, some Dems who are leading the congressional hearings?

Makes you go H-m-m!!!

Posted by DJ | Report as abusive

can any one believe what we are hearing, barney frank demanding the names of any one who took bonuses at AIG,standing there as brazen as that,can he honestly believe that he has one strand of creditability.it reminds me of a saying that my late father used as a joke,”if you are being chased out of town ,try to give the impression that you are leading the pack”.this seems very much a similar tactical plan that is being employed by our eminent democratic leaders.

Posted by brian lee | Report as abusive