President Barack Obama has proclaimed that the bonuses to AIG executives is “outrageous” but the “The buck stops with me.” The White House press corp again failed to ask the obvious question: what does that mean? When everyone is at fault, no one is generally accountable in the bizarre world that is Washington.
Previously, Obama has insisted in answering questions about investigating war crimes by the prior administration that “no one is above the law” and has thus far blocked any investigation into the matter. In the meantime, the Edward Liddy, chairman and CEO of the American International Group Inc. is expressing his own outrage. Everyone is outraged. Congress, AIG, and the White House. With everyone outraged, no one is really responsible in the perfect Beltway sidestep. Obviously, Obama does not believe he is at fault since he has insisted that he didn’t know of the bonuses and says that he is opposed to them. What the “buck” statement tends to mean by politicians is not “I accept responsibility” but “I expect blame for everyone else so no need to keep demanding answers.”
I discussed this issue on Countdown in this segment. Senator Chris Dodd has been criticized for allowing an amendment that exempted such bonuses but others have pointed out that Dodd opposed the idea that was pushed by the Obama White House. That takes a bit away from the outrage expressed by President Obama and his staff this week.
While Congress might be able to recoup the funds with restrictions on future payments to AIG, it believe an effort to tax the individual AIG executives would raise serious constitutional problems. This remains a case of the completely corrupt meeting the overtly incompetent. It will be the taxpayers who pay for that perfect storm.
In the meantime, Libby is asking AIG executives to voluntarily return half of their bonuses — leaving many with half a million dollars or more for ruining the company as opposed to a million.
As for the executives, they appear to have act within the law written by Congress. As rational actors, why wouldn’t they grab a million dollars or more? It is not likely that these people will have gainful employment in the future. Being a former AIG executive is much like being a former Madoff accountant — not exactly a hot item in the job market. It is not like this will make these executive more unpopular. They are currently rivaling Ebola and rickets on popularity scales.
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