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.”