Grassley Hyperventilates On AIG Bonus Fumes

Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA) has recommended that the now infamous AIG bonus recipients follow the Japanese example, and resign or commit suicide:

“I suggest, you know, obviously, maybe they ought to be removed,” Grassley said. “But I would suggest the first thing that would make me feel a little bit better toward them if they’d follow the Japanese example and come before the American people and take that deep bow and say, I’m sorry, and then either do one of two things: resign or go commit suicide.

“And in the case of the Japanese, they usually commit suicide before they make any apology.”

New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo has already issued subpoenas to AIG employees that received the bonuses. Perhaps he’s hunting for an opportunity to impose the Chinese solution.

Amidst the high dudgeon that Capitol Hill and the White House position themselves in it is worth remembering that the Federal Reserve, from which the AIG bonus money came, is ultimately regulated by Congress.(The same congress that excels at show trials but can’t write legislation to prevent something like this happening.)

Payments to financial industry executives have been on the political radar screen for months. Why didn’t Congress do something about this before then? It would have been relatively simple in my mind: simply have AIG officers agree in writing that the bailout funds had a specific and exclusive use before the money was handed over (this is SOP in Federal Bankruptcy Court). But that would have required some forethought and careful consideration by congressional leaders such as Barney Frank and Christopher Dodd.

Perhaps they were too busy with the record stimulus bill to be bothered with a trifling $160 million in bonuses to AIG officers and employees. Or it could be that Congress is wholly indifferent to this sort of bad judgment except when it becomes a public spectacle. After all, this is the same Congress that refuses to abolish its own automatic pay raises.

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