Friday, March 20, 2009

AP's AIG Story Today Gives White House A Pass

The AP reports this morning - - -

The case of the missing AIG bonus limits has become a tale of political intrigue and Democratic infighting that could threaten the re-election chances of a top senator and the credibility -- if not the career -- of one of President Obama's top advisers.

As the House passed new legislation Thursday to crack down on the outrage-inspiring bonuses, Sen. Chris Dodd of Connecticut, the Banking Committee chairman, and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner engaged in finger-pointing about who was responsible for Congress' failure to prevent them in the first place.

Dodd, a five-term senator, was already facing a tough re-election contest in 2010. He says the Obama administration insisted he modify his proposal to rein in bonuses at companies getting billions of dollars in financial bailouts so that it would only apply to payments agreed to in the future -- thus clearing the way for the AIG payouts.

It was that or have his executive pay limits dropped altogether from the $787 billion stimulus measure that passed last month, Dodd says.

He agreed to the changes "in order to preserve the amendment," Dodd told reporters Thursday. "They sought it; I didn't. They asked for the changes ... and so we agreed to those changes."

Geithner said Thursday that his staff merely pointed out that without the change, the government risked being sued by executives in line to get big bonuses from bailout recipients.

"What we did is just express concern about the vulnerability of a specific part of this provision, the legal challenge, as you would expect us to do. That's part of the legislative process," he told CNN.

The treasury chief also appeared to back away from the administration's previous assertion that Geithner first learned of the bonuses last week. Interviewed on CNN, Geithner said only that he "learned of the full scale and scope of these specific" bonus payments at that point.

Both men had positive things to say about each other despite the dispute over who watered down the bill.

"He has the president's support and backing and he has mine at this point," Dodd said of Geithner.

Geithner told CNN that Dodd "has played an enormously important leadership role in this, and he's doing the right thing." ...

The entire AP story's here.

The most notable thing about it?

It avoids any mention of President Obama or his top staffers' involvement in crafting the bonus loophole (or whatever you want to call it).

But you know a legislative veteran like Dodd isn't going to do what he did just at Geithner's request.

Dodd surely, either directly or through a member of his staff, checked with The White House to make sure this is what Team Obama wanted.

He'd do that not only for CYA, but to pick up a "big favor chip" of the kind only White House top staffers and President Obama could later "cash."

We don't yet know the half of what went on.


Anonymous said...

It will be interesting to see just how much the Republicans will press the White House and the Democrats in Congress on this issue. Given that Pelosi 's line is to move on and the willingness of the press to cut the Obama administration a pass, my guess is that not much will happen until the lawsuits by the AIG bonus recipients are filed. It would seem that the tax aimed at them (and those other officials in companies that received TARP monies who received bonuses) constitutes a punitive measure aimed at a specific group of people - thus a bill of attainder which is outlawed by the Constitution. I think it will be difficult for the Democrats in the Congress and the White House to explain why they can compromise the rights of a specific group because they received a bonus. Which group of individuals will be next for the Congress to carve out a specific punishment for?

Anonymous said...

John sez:
"We don't yet know the half of what went on."
If the past is any indicator, we never will know because the great seekers of truth like the WaPo and NYT are asleep at the switch. Besides, even if there is proof positive of BHO's direct involvement, nothing will be done about it. This train wreck called the Obama administration is committing mayhem on our government, our foreign policy, our economy, and our ethics, yet the Obamaphiles are still grinning like a jackass eating briers as though the second coming of the messiah has occurred.
Tarheel Hawkeye

Anonymous said...

What concerns me is the call for the heads of the AIG execs who are getting the raises and the suggestion by those like Thomas Friedman (as well as Obama)that anone getting a pay raise or a bonus should reject it as his/her patriotic duty. If the government gets into the business of determining whether a company can issue bonus's and/or pay raises (either current ones or acting retroactively because it takes issue with a policy or with how s company or organization spends its money) then everyone is a potential loser.