For Immediate Release
AIG Bonuses: Back at the Trough
Statement of Robert Weissman, President, Public Citizen
WASHINGTON - They're back at the trough. The folks at AIG don't get it. Do they
expect to be congratulated for taking $100 million in bonus payments
instead of $110 million or $120 million? Payment of the bonuses is
justified as contractually required but the
government-owned AIG can honor such contractual terms only because the firm was rescued with $180 billion in taxpayer supports.
This latest outrage comes on top of reports that emerged in recent
months that AIG employees en masse reneged on promises made last year
to return bonus payments.
The refrain that bonus payments must be made to retain "talent"
doesn't even qualify as a cruel joke. This is the so-called talent that
presided over the collapse of AIG and cost taxpayers countless billions.
Congress is not helpless on this issue, and has no excuse for
failing to take action. When the AIG bonus scandal broke, there was
serious talk of imposing a 90 percent tax on the bonus payments. Once
fooled, it is time for Congress to return to this remedy.
AIG, of course, is only the most egregious example of bonus abuse.
It is time for Congress to adopt an across-the-board windfall bonus tax
on Wall Street and the financial sector. The place to start is by
taking up the Responsible Banking Act, introduced by Rep. Dennis
Public Citizen is a national, nonprofit consumer advocacy organization founded in 1971 to represent consumer interests in Congress, the executive branch and the courts.