January 29th, 2009
08:54 PM ET

Evening Buzz: Greedy Wall Street

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/01/29/art.obamageithner0129.gi.jpg caption="President Obama rebuked Wall Street Thursday during a meeting with new Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner."]

Maureen Miller
AC360° Writer

This will get your blood boiling: a new report shows that Wall Street firms handed out $18.4 billion in bonuses last year as companies were seeking government bailouts. OK, sure, that's a 44% drop from 2007, but it's still the sixth-biggest on record.

President Obama calls the payouts "shameful." "There will be a time for them to make profits, and there will be a time for them to get bonuses. Now is not that time," he added.

That tough talk is being back up with some tough action.

Tonight we've learned President Obama is planning next week to unveil a plan to help fix the financial system that will include a crackdown on Wall Street bonuses, according to two senior administration officials. CNN's Ed Henry will have the details from the White House.

What would like to see in the bailout crackdown plan? Share your thoughts below.

We're also following now private citizen Rod Blagojevich. He's been ousted as the governor of Illinois in a state Senate vote of 59-0. A unanimous decision. He's not staying quiet. A little bit after the vote Blagojevich spoke to reporters outside his Chicago home. "The fix was in from the very beginning," he said.

Illinois Lt. Gov. Patrick Quinn gets to change his business card. The 60-year-old tax attorney is now the Governor. We'll have the latest developments on the wild day in Illinois politics.

Join us for these stories and more starting at 10pm ET.

Filed under: Maureen Miller • The Buzz
soundoff (98 Responses)
  1. gerry

    These people have made a fortune ripping off the taxpayers and the poor. This isnt the first time that they have wasted the money that the taxpayers gave them to save thier jobs. How many times are we going to tolerate the ceo of this company taking us for money ? This person needs to be removed. We are going broke people!!
    Do we need to end up like russia for people to GET IT ??????

    January 29, 2009 at 11:13 pm |
  2. geo23

    outraged in CA...the only way capitalism will work is if we treat our treasury as a business and start earning interest on our money..a bankers bank that demands the same rules as they do on us

    January 29, 2009 at 11:12 pm |
  3. abc ~ anything but california hugh

    New legislation needs to be passed, demanding a refund of any money spent in 2008 for bonuses from companies that received bail out money. Demand a full refund of the bail out money if they don't comply. The greedy white-collar practices on wallstreet has got to end. As long as they can find a way to get away with fleecing America they will do nothing less.

    January 29, 2009 at 11:10 pm |
  4. Gerard M

    This is hardly criminal. Ignorant? Inconsiderate? Probably both. It's more criminal and unfortunate that the government gave these faltering banks large amounts of money without attaching constraints on bonus payouts to executives and the like. Think back a little bit, and this was a key issue when the TARP was originally introduced. What do you expect these investment bank executives to do? By the way, did the Senate vote themselves an annual pay raise?

    January 29, 2009 at 11:09 pm |
  5. geo23

    obama earned my respect today..he is treating the bankers like they would treat us if we asked for money..we need to apply the same rules they apply to us when loaning money..dont see how theyre any different...we should the "taxpayers" be the mother of all banks and start making money off these banks

    January 29, 2009 at 11:05 pm |
  6. Soumax

    Mr President, nationalize the banks. Do it under the name of national security. These greedy, greedy Wall Streeters, bankers, and everyone else lining up for a piece of the bailout pie, are only out for THEMSELVES, and could care less about our country. If this keeps up, we will denigrate to a barter economy in no time. Give me two apples, and i'll give you a loaf of bread.

    PS- aren't we all glad that all that foolish talk about investing the social security fund in the stock market has now gone by the wayside?

    January 29, 2009 at 11:03 pm |
  7. Ken

    This simply a piece of divisive propaganda that Obama is using to stoke the fires of class warfare. He is using this recession to attempt to socialize our economy and the media is going along in lockstep.
    The problem in the economy is not the bonuses paid to Wall Street executives. The bailout money that most of these companies recieved is an investment in the form of preferred stock it is not simply a hand out. The governement should have the same rights of any holder of preferred stock. That does not include any management control over the companies.

    January 29, 2009 at 10:50 pm |
  8. Paul R. Calgary AB.

    If these CEO's had a patriotic bone in their body they would reconsider and donate their bonuses to the VA. Everyone gives lip service to the troops, you know the people out there dying, while some are making money hand over fist at home. How about some real support for them. But not these CEO's; these nobodies that think they're somebodies. Heck, they couldn't even perform and make their companies successful, let along earn a bonus. What a group of overpaid, greedy, useless and shameful bunch they are. They deserve to be treated with disdain.

    January 29, 2009 at 10:46 pm |
  9. Clark

    1. I agree that huge bonuses for executives while millions are losing their jobs is unethical ... I don't believe that it is criminal.
    2. But then I believe in absolute truths and the Word of God and justice should not show partiality to either rich or poor.
    3. But for the people who state that they want diversity and tolerance for all people and philosophies ... how do they then support their own anger at these people who are unethical according to my view? why are the policies wrong when it is just simply another diverse way of deciding to divide up the available monies?
    4. Why is diversity ok when the people are doing something we agree with or at least don't oppose but diversity of thought is wrong when we don't agree with the other person's philosphy?
    5. We are entering a very slippery slope .... will we pursue true justice and tolerance of God defined good? or will we simply use our rules and demand that others tolerate our whims that are based on no firm foundation?

    January 29, 2009 at 10:43 pm |
  10. Wayne Martin

    Aren't bonuses an inspiring event?

    Let's not buy any more preferred stock in big multinational banks. They like the money too much to loan it back to us for a profit. Scaredy cats.

    Let's instead open a new public bank. Think about it. A few hundred billion to loan and no bad debt. Now that's a good bank.

    Then everyone gets what they think they want. The market can 'correct' the missteps of the stupid, pleasing both the conservatives and, now that the bonuses have been passed out, the liberals.

    Everyone who should lose gets to lose, and yet the financial system will still work. Just under different leadership.

    January 29, 2009 at 10:35 pm |
  11. Wm. Scott Francis

    'Shameful'? 'A plan'? Wall St. gets bailout money from the federal government, and turn around and payout $18 billion in bonuses! Like Madoff, they have ripped the American people in huge ways! Why are we pussy-footing around with these people?! If we did not pay their taxes, the IRS would be all over us! Obama needs a plan? How about he just pick up the phone and call the FBI to make some arrests–for starters? Where is the justice in this country?

    January 29, 2009 at 10:34 pm |
  12. Suneel

    Anderson - Ask yourself the following questions

    1) if you take that $20 billion out of wall street pockets, what do you think is going to happen to the NYC economy? Btw, do you know how much of that $20 billion is in cash versus deferred stock?

    2) Why is it morally acceptable for the wealthy (who pay most of the taxes in this country) to be tagged with nearly $1.7 trillion in spending (TARP and Obama's stimulus plan) to stimulate the whole economy but then reprehensible for them to give themselves $20 bn?

    Good reporting, but I think you should get beyond the populist rhetoric and dig a bit deeper.

    January 29, 2009 at 10:32 pm |
  13. judy

    The outrage that the executives are getting big bonuses is well placed, but if "We the people" are paying our money to bail them out, then in the spirit of working together, as our new President said, they need to stop the late charges, and high interest rates on credit cards now, and look at ways for people stay in their homes while "We the people" are having a hard time because of the mess they created.

    January 29, 2009 at 10:29 pm |
  14. maggie g

    Koodoos to the President for expressing a strong opinion on poor management and greed in the midst of a this economical crisis,

    January 29, 2009 at 10:25 pm |
  15. CindyR

    I can only hope that their is an investigation into Wall Street and action is taken against those who commited crimes and are profiting while tax payors bail them out.

    It amazes me that we were able to spend how much time and money investigating our President Bill Clinton over the years for deals that proved to be nothing and these guys destroy the financial markets and no investigation has even began.

    Where is the equity? I just do not get it.

    January 29, 2009 at 10:25 pm |
  16. Outraged in California

    It appears that we are at the end… of Capitalism. This is Capitalism at its worst! If we continue to idolize Capitalism, then we need to expect more of this to continue. The Executives and CEOs continue to get “fatter” with our monies and the middle class person dissolves into the huge poor creating a 2 class system and we end up a 3rd world country.

    The only way out of this mess is: Everyone MUST work! Everyone must earn income in some way! Everyone must have a job and be productive! It is as simple as that! As much as I hate to say it, the government needs more intervention on private business.

    January 29, 2009 at 10:23 pm |
  17. joyce Schwartz

    I just looked at a list of millions of dollarsgeared for a variety of way to make jobs.

    the ones i know about like the National endowment for the arts will greate needed jobs in a culture that is among the lowly paid of highly educated people arts professionals. and artists also have to feed their families, artists should be given grants, as they did before Lynn cheney cut funds.

    amtrak need money desperately. we should a system of regional quiet, fast trains as in france and italy. this will cut auto travel which pollutes and air travel which also pollutes and is time consuming and difficult. schools offer jobs to teachers. we need more teachers, not less.

    we need infrastructure desperate, bridges, , transportation, eco systems by science, and hospitals that give work to many and service to neighborhoods.d Many are failing.. In new york do we need a colorful ugly bank on every corner It visually pollutes the neighborhood.is not manned by people just machines.

    science needs money, so does saving the environment. there are real qualified people working in most of the fields enumerated. here

    Banks awarding their high level people as they fail who caused the problems donot need money they need to be re-educated in more productive fields. . Let the bad ones fail and give the money to make real jobs that helppeople, the environment and infrastructure.

    January 29, 2009 at 10:22 pm |
  18. suelouise1

    The CEOs of Wall Street don't need PR people to tell them that giving themselves $18 billion bonuses for 2008 is irresponsible. There must be more to the story. Dig deeper, Anderson.

    January 29, 2009 at 10:21 pm |
  19. Tane

    The Government has every right to demand that the money that they are giving these banks cannot go for bonuses. How dare they ask for the taxpayers to rescue them and then go on to refuse to extend credit to businesses and individuals while they hand out billions to the very people that toppled our economy!

    January 29, 2009 at 10:19 pm |
  20. bridgett

    wall street should be shamme!

    January 29, 2009 at 10:16 pm |
  21. Bessie

    I agree with President Obama's comments about Wall Street bonuses being "shameful" and that corporate executives need to lead by example. We're wondering how the president, his administration, and government will "lead by example"? The extravagant inauguration ($140m) wasn't a good start! Will he cancel the outstanding order for the new "Airforce One's"?

    January 29, 2009 at 10:15 pm |
  22. Joan T.

    All I can say is thank-you President Obama for the obvious anger regarding these bonuses. I am outraged and was outraged when I read the article in the paper. I say we take back whatever TARP money can be connected to those bonuses and given to those banks that are willing to provide a plan that assures needed credit and/or businesses that will provide jobs.

    When I read it all I could think is that we should being back the public pillory – how angry I was. And, it really goes to complete arrogance and distain for for the the public, taxpayers, and each of us. I'm disgusted.

    January 29, 2009 at 10:14 pm |
  23. barbara from TX

    The pork is a disgrace to our country. I guess we just have to blame Bush for this one too.

    January 29, 2009 at 10:14 pm |
  24. Fanny

    Am I in an alternate universe or are bonuses given for better than average performance in a normal business? These people lose almost 40% of the money they are supposed to work with, almost bankrupt the whole economy and country and still get bonuses. I thought this only happened in West African countries. At least those people have to fear a coup-de-etat. These are some brazen crooks. I think I will look for a job there next. Good gig if you can get it.

    January 29, 2009 at 10:12 pm |
  25. Emmanuel

    I am not sure why we are concerned that our government is asking for more transparency regarding the financial financial operations of certain corporations. In my opinion, if a company is asking for money from the government then the government should and is expected to become aware of how they are spending it. Private companies that go public give up much of the same to shareholders.

    January 29, 2009 at 10:12 pm |
  26. Outraged in California


    January 29, 2009 at 10:11 pm |
  27. nasir

    we keep putting the blanket over wall street....why don't we name the people (greedy) who are pocketing our u.s. tax dollars????

    January 29, 2009 at 10:08 pm |
  28. Matthew B

    This is not "shameful", it is plain old sick and disgusting. To think that these people come running to the American people begging to money after killing our economy. They must have some serious brass down there on wall street.

    Do not give these greedy fat cats another dime of my money – if you want to stimulate the economy – give the money back to the people – we will spend, the economy will grown – and best of all, these wall street yahoos will lose their bonuses, and hopefully their jobs.

    January 29, 2009 at 10:07 pm |
  29. Arden

    These firms are very mislead. Millions spent to keep their expertise within their power; perhaps even justified in the notions that they were trying to be more able to help their customers.

    It's despicable that we indirectly support this, at the very least in financial terms. Being the taxpayers and thus the source of the big bucks spent, shouldn't we have more say in how this is dealt with?

    January 29, 2009 at 10:07 pm |
  30. Nancy in Oregon

    What else is new? The bonuses are obscene but have always been so ....as long as there are such horrid discrepancies between standards of living, pots-of-gold bonuses just sound so pre-French revolution to me!

    January 29, 2009 at 10:07 pm |
  31. Alpha

    Its just a shame that those people would ask for a bailout while also receiving bonuses. Shows u their arrongance and greed...now costing taxpayers more money. Pure Shame!!!

    January 29, 2009 at 10:04 pm |
  32. Dennis

    Greed has always hurt people in our democratic and capitalist system. But, what makes this time different is the fact that very few people are ashamed of what they do.

    January 29, 2009 at 10:03 pm |
  33. Cherry B - Ms

    First of all, I am a huge Obama supporter and thiink he's doing an incredible job. But why is he just now acknowledging this executive bonus issue. I thought it was generally known that these people have been accepting these enormous bonuses for years, without any concern with what was happening to their customers and clients and the financial condition of their institutions. Go figure......

    January 29, 2009 at 9:58 pm |
  34. Tom of Philly

    I have had a social contract with my father that I have never violated. I am in the 90% who havent defaulted on their mortguage, but unfortunately due to illness and the economy I have needed help to stay in that group. The contract is, if I ask for help, gas utilites food and the mortguage are all that i spend money on.

    The ceo culture is is more disgusing than the story everyone has a version of: in the grocery store, person uses access/food stamp card, outside of the store waits the cadillac. Honstly thats is a very small percentage of welfare recipients, exacerbated by that fact that at least in pa you cant own ANYTHING if you are on assistance. These executive creeps didnt get it, dont get it, and obviously wont get it.. I dont want the bank of the united states, but i dont want citicorp more, call the loans seize the assets and start lending money from the fed to the people directly. Sell the bank of the united states off when things get better at a great profit, to pay the bill for the economic recovery we are about to charge to the national debt.

    January 29, 2009 at 9:58 pm |
  35. Gerry in Toronto

    I think that's as mad as we'll ever see Obama. The peoples outrage should be expressed to both Paulson and Bush; they're the ones responsible for the lack of accountability.

    Paulson just wanted to make sure his buds on Wall Street had a nice payday. Too bad it cost the American tax payer 350 billion.

    $18,000,000,000.00 down the toilet and they probably sent it offshore to avoid taxes.

    January 29, 2009 at 9:57 pm |
  36. jarrod

    when do people that are really struggling going to get a bailout I think the crackdown that should happen is we don't bailout anybody and let the economy crack itself down and get rid of all these greedy corporations and let real change begin. How much is money going to worth if they keep printing it we'll see in 1,3,5,10 years "$3,000 dollars for a candy bar"

    January 29, 2009 at 9:55 pm |
  37. Sharon

    Is anyone being held accountable? This is the big question?

    If I were in charge and this happened I would demand the money back and within a short period because obviously they lied to get the bailout money!

    January 29, 2009 at 9:54 pm |
  38. Oshan Sands

    here's an idea.......how about tracking down the bonuses and taking the money back?? If it was a mistake.....why not?


    January 29, 2009 at 9:54 pm |
  39. Sharon

    Well who can we blame? Congress! They were the ones who handed out this money with NO stipulations on it and now these banks and financial institutions refuse to even say where ALL the money went!

    January 29, 2009 at 9:53 pm |
  40. Outraged in California

    This is Capitalism at its worst. We the people give billions of dollars so wall street CEOs and upper management can enjoy our money!!

    January 29, 2009 at 9:53 pm |
  41. gina

    How dare those Executives on Wall Street give themselves bonuses. May they all burn in hell.

    January 29, 2009 at 9:47 pm |
  42. jarrod

    I don't think CEO bonuses should exceed thier salaries in the first place. Most people that get bonuses are just a percentage of thier monthly salaries and these days that"s not much

    January 29, 2009 at 9:43 pm |
  43. earle,florida

    Oh yea,gotta pay the big-rainmakers big-time to retain their expertise,otherwise we will fail,or our compeditors will sign them up!Makes cents to me,after all, they've run the country,never mind our/their companies into the (bankruptcy) ground,but try to find good talent today?We can't afford taking a chance on someone from the outside,you know,...?

    January 29, 2009 at 9:39 pm |
  44. sarah

    You could tell President Obama is seriously peeved off. He is livid. You could tell he wanted to cuss them out but couldnt.

    Shame on them. They should all go to jail and Obama should hire new ppl to take over the banks until the economy gets better. He should do it in the name of economic security of the nation. these bankers are selfish.

    once the economy gets better he can give it back to the ceos and board members of the banks. theses idiots are a pathetic bunch

    January 29, 2009 at 9:34 pm |
  45. Connie

    You all know that if you or i did what wall street execs did, we would go to jail.

    We gave them a hand and look what they did, they threw it back in our faces.

    $18 Million Dollars in bonuses. We need to go after them with everything we got. Add to that, the Republicans voting against this bill. It's just SHAMEFUL!!!!!!!!!!!

    We have an infrastructure failing big time, people who have been hit hard by all these lay offs now are facing anywhere from two to three weeks without power because of this storm.

    The Republicans refusing to acknowledge the fact that we are in deep trouble and that ff we do not do anything to correct it, we will be paying big time.

    January 29, 2009 at 9:24 pm |
  46. Khari Clarendon

    Why is it criminal today when it has been this way for the past 30 plus years? These executives have been getting our monies all along. It is what we are told to dream about. Capitalism. Tax payers have always been the owners of these companies. We are the ones who have spent them into success. It is not acceptable; but we have not taught them any better.


    January 29, 2009 at 9:21 pm |
  47. Tom in Mich

    4.8 million on unemployment rolls. Nearly 20 billion to a few bankers as Christmas bonuses. Let's see, that's around 4100 per person on unemployment. At least that would be a few more months of benefits.

    But more to the point, where is the outrage? Where are the calls to trade in the corporate jets? Where are the demands for the CEOs to put their derrieres in senate banking committee chairs to be stared down upon with frowning disapproval? Where are the ambush demands for complete corporate balance sheets? Where are Shelby, Corker and Demint to tell us all with such authority that the bankers have failed business models? Where are the calls for a review of the banker's business plans "going forward" for viability? Where are the scolding comparisons to foreign banks that aren't failing and aren't begging for bailouts? Where are the calls for failed banks to, gee wiz, go "BANKrupt?" Where are the polls of all americans showing dissapproving of the banking industry and distaste for bailout? Where are the calls for a post-banking economy? Where is Morici to tell us that the banks are outdated and should die a natural death? Where are all the claims that they make a product we really no longer want to "mortage" our futures upon? Where is the outrage folks?

    How close is the nearest Swiss Bank ATM?

    G'nite and thanks from Detroit.

    January 29, 2009 at 9:19 pm |
  48. Gene Penszynski from Vermont

    You know it's time that these poeple are actually made to PAY for their criminal acts. How'bout if we strip them of all their assets and DEPORT them to their new 'developing economies' in COMMUNIST CHINA and SOCIALIST INDIA. WE could use their assests of course to pay down the trade imbalances they created along with offering some relief to American workers that have been displaced which they've also been responsible for.

    It would then be very 'interesting' to see how they fair in those somewhat less than American 'Democratic' and 'Capitalist' Societies on less than ONE DOLLAR per hour 'Coolie Slave Labor' wages sharing one room aprartments with two other families or more.

    January 29, 2009 at 9:15 pm |
  49. Annie Kate

    Well I hope Blagojevich disappears from the news cycle now. I'm over hearing about him! On the Wall Street thing I think the companies who got bailouts and then spent them on bonuses should have to pay the amount of the bonuses back immediately. If that is what they used the money for then they didn't need a bailout. I'd like to see bailouts require an itemized list on where every dollar of the bailout goes – along with explanations if necessary. Let the auditors from the IRS audit them every so often to be sure that the bailout money is being used for what it was intended to be used for. And if the institution just parks the money and doesn't use it or do what they are suppose to do (like the banks not lending) then take the bailout back. Whey give them money if it isn't going to change what they are doing. And since the first bailout was suppose to help with foreclosures I'd like to hear if they have and if not why not. I don't mind helping people keep their homes but I do mind helping big business get bigger.

    January 29, 2009 at 9:11 pm |
  50. Mary V., Salt Lake City, UT

    The FACT that AIG, a Wall Street firm who was bailed-out gave bonuses to their employees is simply........ CRIMINAL!

    January 29, 2009 at 8:56 pm |
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