Posted on 16 Mar 2009
Trying to contain a political firestorm, President Barak Obama has instructed Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner to "pursue every single legal avenue" to block $165 million in bonuses to AIG executives who were in part responsible for the company's near collapse.
"This is a corporation that finds itself in financial distress due to recklessness and greed," Mr. Obama said during his press conference to discuss the administration plans to rescue small businesses through a raft of new lending option. "Under these circumstances, it's hard to understand how derivative traders at AIG warranted any bonuses, much less $165 million in extra pay. How do they justify this outrage to the taxpayers who are keeping the company afloat?"
"This isn't just a matter of dollars and cents. It's about our fundamental values," he added. "All across there are people working hard and meeting their responsibilities without the benefit of government dollars....Everyone from Wall Street to Main Street has to play by the same ethical rules."
For the president, AIG's announcement that it would award huge bonuses to the executives involved in the exotic financial instruments that forced the bailout has become a critical test. If anger at the bonuses consumes the electorate, any additional funds the administration might need for its financial rescue could become impossible to extract from Congress.