Thursday, March 19, 2009


Progress Report: As outrage mounts over the $165 million in executive bonuses paid to AIG staffers, many Republicans are trying to tap into the wellspring of public anger. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) condemned the "outrageous situation" and boasted that he had been "complaining about the way AIG had been doing its business" since October. Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) agreed: "A lot of these people should be fired, not awarded bonuses. This is horrible. It’s outrageous."

However, when Congress debated capping the salaries and bonuses for Wall Street executives whose firms accepted federal TARP funds, these same Republican leaders balked. "I really don't want the government to take over these businesses and start telling them everything about what they can do," McConnell said. "It should be up to the board of directors of a private corporation to set the compensation of an executive; it shouldn’t be Congress's role," Shelby agreed. McConnell's past opposition to capping Wall St. compensation didn't stop him from going on CNN and suggesting that he had favored such caps all along. When CNN's Wolf Blitzer asked whether Congress should "have passed salary caps on these bailed out companies," McConnell replied, "We certainly had a chance with the amendment by Senator Snowe to prevent this kind of bonuses from being paid."

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