How to get back the AIG bonuses

The Washington Times Weekly - - Editorials -

Wash­ing­ton is over­whelmed by anger over the AIG bonuses. How could gov­ern­ment money be go­ing to pay mil­lions in bonuses to em­ploy­ees who were re­spon­si­ble for losses that re­sulted in AIG tak­ing $173 bil­lion in gov­ern­ment bailouts? Of course, if we had our way, the gov­ern­ment wouldn’t have bailed out the com­pany to be­gin with.

Politi­cians who sup­ported the bailout have had their own so­lu­tions. Sens. Chris Dodd and Charles Schumer are threat­en­ing to get the bonus money back by tax­ing away ev­ery dol­lar that th­ese for­mer or cur­rent AIG em­ploy­ees get in bonuses. Yet, with de­duc­tions and other com­pli­ca­tions that won’t get ev­ery­thing back.

Well, we have a sim­ple so­lu­tion to help make up the dif­fer­ence and help tax­pay­ers get back some of the em­ploy­ees’ sup­posed “ill-got­ten” gains. AIG em­ploy­ees have given large do­na­tions to some of the very politi­cians who are scream­ing the loud­est about the bonuses (see box). Since th­ese politi­cians got money from those em­ploy­ees, why don’t they of­fer to turn their do­na­tions over to the gov­ern­ment? If we are an­gry at th­ese em­ploy­ees, why aren’t we just as mad at the politi­cians who have taken their do­na­tions?

Two of the politi­cians scream­ing the loud­est about tax­ing the bonuses are Messrs. Dodd and Schumer. The two have got­ten more money from AIG em- ploy­ees over their ca­reers than any­one now in Wash­ing­ton. Sen. Chuck Grass­ley, who, in­spired by Ja­panese hari-kari, is call­ing for AIG em­ploy­ees to re­pent or com­mit sui­cide, is among the top 12 se­na­tors who have re­ceived money from AIG em­ploy­ees. Also on the list of top do­na­tion re­cip­i­ents from AIG em­ploy­ees is Rep. Carolyn Maloney, New York De- mo­crat, who has also been call­ing for a 100 per­cent tax on bonuses.

Many are ask­ing why the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion didn’t do some­thing a lot sooner. Pres­i­dent Obama is also get­ting blamed for not find­ing other ways of block­ing the money. Well, what do you know? Mr. Obama is third on the list of ac­tively serv­ing politi­cians who has re- ceived money from AIG em­ploy­ees. Vice Pres­i­dent Joe Bi­den, who is 13th on the list, should have some ex­tra money to spare as well.

Many politi­cians are us­ing the bonus con­tro­versy to shift at­ten­tion and cover their own roles in this fi­nan­cial fi­asco. Politi­cians who helped cre­ate the cur­rent cri­sis should bear some of the costs.

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