Our government is also morally culpable for the “terms” of the AIG bailout. Ever since the bonus payouts to AIG employees became a “controversy” in the media, President Obama has insisted that he knew “nothing,” prior to authorizing the bailout funds, about AIG’s contractual obligations to pay bonuses to their executives, and has expressed indignation over the matter.
Yet last Wednesday, Senator Christopher Dodd stated on CNN that indeed, he and “the administration” knew very well that AIG had obligations to pay bonuses to their executives, that he (Dodd) attempted to legislatively prevent those bonuses from being paid, and that “the administration” pressured him to not prevent the bonus payments.
So Senator Dodd and President Obama are saying different things about our government’s relationship to AIG. Both stories may be false, but they cannot both be true at the same time. If one of these men is speaking truthfully, then the other is lying.
Worse yet has been the public response from President Obama and members of Congress to taxpayer outrage. In a spectacular game of “CYA,” President Obama, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Congressman Barney Frank, Senator Christopher Dodd, and Republican Senator Chuck Grassley (just to name a few) have all sought to deflect criticism of themselves for spending billions of our dollars on a failing corporation, by making 73 AIG executives the object of public scorn.
Nothing is known publicly about the bonus recipients themselves. Yet it is probable that, despite the overall failure of the AIG "team," the anonymous 73 had to achieve some significant individual goals to qualify for a bonus. OJ Simpson was once a record-setting, history making, hall-of-famer, “bonus worthy” running back, yet nearly his entire NFL career was spent with a “failed” team called the Buffalo Bills. The situation with the AIG executives is likely similar.
But details don’t matter for power-hungry politicians. To divert negative attention from themselves, President Obama and members of Congress have begun a process of “occupational profiling.” The idea of singling-out Americans according to their ethnicity for special government harassment and punishment - - “racial profiling” - - is abhorrent. But the leaders of our government have singled-out anyone with the word “executive” in their job title, for very ugly treatment.
President Obama is correct to say that there are “moral and ethical” issues entailed in this mess. Americans need to focus on what those issues truly are.
Austin Hill is an Author, Consultant, and Host of "Austin Hill's Big World of Small Business," a syndicated talk show about small business ownership and entrepreneurship. He is Co-Author of the new release "The Virtues Of Capitalism: A Moral Case For Free Markets." , Author of "White House Confidential: The Little Book Of Weird Presidential History," and a frequent guest host for Washington, DC's 105.9 WMAL Talk Radio.