Outrage burst forth from lawmakers in Washington when the story broke that insurance giant AIG still planned to dole out $165 million in bonuses to executives while it teeters near bankruptcy, kept afloat by taxpayers. But the outrage is mostly coming from hypocrites. Just days earlier, President Obama signed an omnibus spending bill with $12.8 billion in self-serving earmarks for legislators during the economic crisis. How can the president and Congress lecture AIG? Don't the earmarking hogs look like hypocrites?
Liberals dismiss complaints about their drunken spending habits as just a conservative distraction. Why, it's only a couple percentage points of the omnibus spending bill. So how much of the AIG bailout is for bonuses? The company has benefited from more than $170 billion in government bailout cash, or $1 out of $1,000. If the earmarks are a tiny distraction, the AIG bonuses are less than insignificant.
But no one's expecting the media to be consistent in their thinking. The same reporters who yawned past the excesses of the Democrats (and yes, the Republicans) stuffing their budget with pork -- now they're outraged, positively outraged at AIG.
ABC morning anchor Chris Cuomo played up the populist anger: "Outrageous. A slap in the face. That's how lawmakers are describing insurance company AIG's decision to hand out $165 million in bonuses after receiving $170 billion in your money." He even allowed Republican Sen. Richard Shelby to rail against AIG, without noting that Sen. Shelby was a leading Republican at the earmark trough, with $114 million in pet projects.
Last week, Cuomo left out the adjectives like "outrageous" as he noted Obama would sign a pile of earmark spending into law: "Despite pledging to crack down on them, President Obama today will sign a $410-billion spending bill loaded with congressional pet projects known as earmarks. The president says he's only signing the bill to finish up last year's business. Today, he will outline a plan to curb earmarks in the future."
The media found no outrage as a Democratic-majority Congress feathered its own nest during this downturn, including no move to freeze its own automatic pay increase of $4,700 a year for 2009. They didn't have to vote for a pay raise. They have rigged it now so the raise is automatic. Freshman Rep. Harry Mitchell, a Democrat, attempted to stop it, but it never came out of committee. Outrage, anyone?