Just a quick tidbit for your consideration. I’ll have more to say on the AIG bonuses later today.
Although Patty Murray voted for both the TARP legislation, which originally authorized the bank bailouts, and the ARRA (stimulus) legislation, which specifically protected bonuses such as those paid at AIG, Senator Murray saw no inconsistency in being one of 12 senators who wrote to AIG and demanded that the bonuses be returned.
Check it out:
March 17, 2009
Chairman and CEO
American International Group
70 Pine Street
New York, NY 10270
We write today to express our outrage at American International Group’s recently revealed multi-million dollar bonus payments. In these perilous economic times, it is unconscionable for the American taxpayer to find out that the very employees responsible for running the company into the ground have now received “performance-based” awards that are hundreds of times as large as the average American’s yearly salary. If these contracts are not renegotiated immediately, we will take action to make American taxpayers whole by recouping all of the bonuses that AIG has paid out to its financial products unit, which, by all accounts, is primarily responsible for the near-failure of the company and the devastating impact on the global financial markets.
For a company that would not exist anymore but for a $170 billion taxpayer funded rescue, it is simply morally unacceptable to spend $165 million on bonus payments, and especially offensive to spend $450 million over the next two years rewarding the employees that helped fuel the nation’s financial crisis. Given the fact that it was the employees in this unit that brought your firm to the brink of bankruptcy and caused such havoc in the world, rewarding them is not only morally reprehensible, but entirely indefensible on any business grounds. It is the grossest perversion of the idea of a “performance bonus” imaginable. In America, we believe in rewarding success. AIG is attempting to reward the most extreme failure.
We insist that you immediately renegotiate these contracts in order to recoup these payments and make the American taxpayer whole. We stand ready to take the difficult, but necessary step of working to enact legislation that would allow the government to recoup these bonus payments, perhaps by imposing a steep tax– as high as 91 percent–that will have the effect of recovering nearly all of the bonuses that have been paid out since AIG turned to taxpayers for help.
At a time when families across the country are struggling to make ends meet, and hundreds of thousands of Americans are losing their jobs each month, the hubris of this company, and these employees, to demand taxpayer assistance for these bonus payments is simply and plainly unacceptable. We urge you to bring your employees to the table to renegotiate these contracts immediately. We expect that you will report back to Congress on your efforts to recoup these payments in short order. Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.
Senators Charles Schumer (D-NY), Tom Harkin (D-IA), Harry Reid (D-NV), Daniel Akaka (D-HI), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Patty Murray (D-WA), Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), Tom Carper (D-DE), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Jeff Merkley (D-OR).
Not content with demanding the return of the money (which they authorized to be paid), Murray and the others went on to threaten the bonus recipients with a bill of attainder should they refuse to return it.
Then, in what could rightfully be characterized as one of the most out-of-touch-with-reality statements ever, the Senators “…insist that you immediately renegotiate these contracts in order to recoup these payments and make the American taxpayer whole.
Make the taxpayer whole? Excuse me for saying so, but coming from a group of Senators who have recently voted to put, when all is said and done, trillions of taxpayer dollars at risk, the idea that the return of a mere $165 million will do anything to make me or any taxpayer whole is absurd and causes me to question whether these Senators shouldn’t be placed under observation for their own protection.
Even today, after the full story of the AIG bonuses has been revealed, after all the lies and attempts to cover it up, after all the Democrat, shift the blame finger pointing, Senator Murray is still touting her signature on this letter on the front page of her official website, the hypocrisy of her actions apparently not so apparent to the good Senator.