The Obama team was near-perfect in the campaign. The politics of governing are proving a little harder. Their chorus on the AIG mess sure seems off-key.
MEANWHILE: The U.S. House debates ways to claw back the bonuses from execs of companies that received bailout money.
UPDATE: Sen. Blanche Lincoln doesn't intend to get left holding the AIG bag. Her e-mail:
We want our money back!
When they received taxpayer bailout funds, the executives at American International Group (AIG) heard our warnings about not using the money to award bonuses to themselves and their employees. So what did they do?
They called bonuses by another name and rewarded themselves $165 million in "performance based rewards."
Folks, where I come from, if it looks like a duck, smells like a duck and quacks like a duck. It's a duck!
This week, I informed AIG Chairman Edward Liddy that the company can either return the bonus money voluntarily or watch it be stripped away by an Act of Congress.
If you want to force AIG to return executive bonuses to the federal government, I need your help. Wall Street and Washington need to know that the American people won't stand for out-of-control bonuses.
During debate on the economic recovery bill earlier this year, the U.S. Senate adopted my amendment to place an excise tax on bonuses awarded by government-funded financial institutions. Unfortunately, the language was dropped before the bill was later passed.
But today, it's a different story. This highly irresponsible action by AIG is an insult to taxpayers and shows a callous disregard for the struggles faced by working families in Arkansas and across America. Now, I believe that my colleagues and the Administration will finally agree that stronger action is necessary.
If you believe that AIG, a company that is 80 percent owned by taxpayers, should return executive bonus money to the federal government, then help me prove that the American people won't stand for out-of-control bonuses.
Approximately 90,000 Arkansans are jobless and thousands more have seen their income diminish as their work hours are cut. Arkansas retirees have seen their nest eggs slashed by more than 50 percent. And the very people responsible for the near-failure of our financial markets are receiving bonuses that are many times greater than an average Arkansan's annual salary. Rather than getting bonuses, they should be fired.
I am working to enact legislation to recoup Arkansas taxpayers' hard-earned money and I need your help. Please sign my online petition today. Let's restore strict accountability and transparency to Wall Street.
Thank you for your help.