February 4th, 2009
10:25 PM ET

Evening Buzz: President Obama's Warning

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/02/04/stimulus/art.obama.gi.jpg caption="President Obama says Congress must act "without delay" on his economic plan."]

Maureen Miller
AC360° Writer

President Obama is warning that a failure to act now on his economic stimulus plan "will turn crisis into a catastrophe and guarantee a longer recession."

Gulp! Will the Senate soon vote on the bill? Tonight we have late breaking details on the showdown.

Meanwhile, today Mr. Obama announced a $500,000 cap on executive pay for those financial companies that got a bailout from Uncle Sam. There will no longer be any cash rewards for failure.

Do you agree with Pres. Obama's crackdown?

We'll have these stories and more tonight on AC360.

Filed under: Maureen Miller • The Buzz
soundoff (50 Responses)
  1. Elizabeth

    President Obama is right on target setting limits on exec compensation for bailed out banks, and extend it to cover all corporate officers. And, we should all support Senator McCaskill's bill to "Claw-Back" bonus money already paid out.

    The real question is why do we need to legislate this? Why are executives of these banks still employed? Public corporations have Boards of Directors and shareholders that are supposed to provide a checks on corporate executives and the SEC is supposed to provide oversight.

    We should have let these banks fail, and still should, since they are still insolvent after all this money, and should abolish the SEC and start fresh.

    February 5, 2009 at 12:57 pm |
  2. Odis

    Once the federal government begins to set the pay for any position, regardless of what the people in that postition have or have not done, it is a slippery slope to Socialism. When the goverment can set the pay scale it will be "to each as they require." Remember when you give control away you have to fight to get it back. When the Democrats passed the firt Bail Out bill they should have put some safeguards in it to prevent this type of travesty.

    February 5, 2009 at 12:20 pm |
  3. stev

    How many people would get a bonus if you ran the company you
    work for, to billions of dollars of losses. Forget about bonus's,
    how about just keeping your job. What is really sad about these
    people, is the way they think they are so special, and entitled to all
    they can reap, regardless, how well they lead their company, or if
    they made a profit or not. What is wrong with people. They seem
    to have lost all their common sense, and just don't care anymore.

    February 5, 2009 at 10:20 am |
  4. rose mccovery

    you know it is not right to get on all oboma do. suit jacket come now. we didnt see the other crook unless he was lying. 16 days i seen more of him than bush in 8 years.

    February 5, 2009 at 10:13 am |
  5. Frank Sanderson

    Doesn't this sound like WMD? If DC really wants to know how to help America, get in the trenches. Don't sit in your glass houses and tell us you know what is best for us. Put all that money in the hands of the working class and they will spend it where it will do the economy the most good. Nobody asked I just thought maybe someone would listen to good old country logic from Mo.

    February 5, 2009 at 9:59 am |
  6. Ernest

    I agree with the POTUS, we have to act accordingly and swiftly. The scenario is overly obvious, the distribution of bail out funds given to the financial arms of this nation is not in use to bring about change and the ways that business was being conducted, rather these funds have been put into play to strengthen their immediate fiscal need. If you look further at the situation, a good business would prefer repayment of principle in times of crisis over profit. We are not seeing this with these companies, we are not seeing the high interest charges fall in order to bring payments back in line, thus continuing sufferage throughout the nation at the worse time in history.

    Furthermore if your Senator or Rep. in Congress is not acting in the best interest of the people in your state, we have something in the US that says we can have them recalled back home and replaced. So those members of Congress and the Senate who continue to drag their feet, beware your state has eyes and they are watching you.

    February 5, 2009 at 9:54 am |
  7. Melanie

    Two words: For Shame!!! After days of watching how things are unfolding I have to say I am not impressed.

    One: Why all the bickering? With thousands losing their jobs each and every day you would think the senate would be seriously concerned for the hard working American, the backbone of the country. Instead they pick away at President Obama's bill and get nothing accomplished. For people without an income, each day is a struggle and yet still nothing is done. How can that not weigh on your conscience? FOR SHAME!

    Two: If your a CEO and your company is failing so badly that you need bailout money you would think that you would stop paying yourself millions, that you would do anything to keep people from losing their jobs. What? You can't give up some of your lavish lifestyle so others can keep their jobs? How do you look at yourself in the mirror each day? FOR SHAME!

    February 5, 2009 at 9:29 am |
  8. john rich jr.

    The intent of the Buy America initiative is good/correct however, more importantly, the focus should be on taking measures, in whatever form or fashion those measures may that, to attempt to insure that the OPEC cartel does not force oil pricing up and bleed stimulus dollars out of the US economy, further enriching the offshore producers and, at the same time, undermining and diminishing the hoped-for effectiveness of the stimulus package.

    February 5, 2009 at 9:25 am |
  9. William of Iowa

    Salary caps for CEO's will be difficult to enforce. A better solution would be seats comparable to the percentage of federal funds allocated relative to the company's bottom line on their board of directors. It is they who set executive pay and benefits.

    February 5, 2009 at 9:21 am |
  10. Tammy, Berwick, LA

    I'm shaking in my boots at Obama's warning to Congress. Please. If I were part of these major companies, I'd tell America to kiss off and move my company to a foreign country where the government won't crackdown. These business execs are savvy. It's how they screwed us over the first time. And if push comes to shove, they'll screw us over again in ways we cannot imagine that won't hurt their bottom dollar.

    February 5, 2009 at 7:53 am |
  11. Judy

    I would like to see the high paid execs have an annual performance review, to determine if they deserve the big bucks, as their companies go down the toilet.

    February 5, 2009 at 7:14 am |
  12. Larry Robinson from Belton Texas


    February 5, 2009 at 6:31 am |
  13. Terry

    "Do I agree with President Obama's crackdown?"
    Ms. Miller......I agree that it was the public idea and the public pressure that brought this about and I agree with the public.

    I also agree with the public that this Pork Package needs to be stripped, people in the House actually need to read it....everybody take their time and do it right .... the sky is not falling. Jan. and Feb. will be the worst months for employers to down size for the benefit of their company and to try to have a profit by Dec. T

    February 5, 2009 at 6:28 am |
  14. Ryan Hymas

    as a follow up to my last comment; i believe that this is a country of free opportunity to make as much as one can until we or a company so to speak approaches the government for cash to save themselves. At this time i believe that nobody deserves to make an abundance but to only be conservative and grateful to be receiving public funds which they(the companies) are in dire need of and requesting. It isn't the public stepping forward to invest on their own will, it is our government allowing to allocate our money to save the business.

    February 5, 2009 at 3:04 am |
  15. J.V.Hodgson

    Yes of course as long as it applies to bonus and salary and not necessarily benefits, but golden parachutes if execsare let go should also not be paid if the total group is unprofitable at the time as well, and they have had bailout funds.
    It is not enough to do just this pandering to voters what must quickly follow is a new regualtory regime to stop a recurrence of this crisis by the same means or reasons. Not enough talk about Regulatory impositions because th lobbyists ( god damn them) are already stoking the reasons why its not needed BUT IT IS AND IS KEY!

    February 5, 2009 at 2:46 am |
  16. Linda Cooks

    President Obama and the democrated congress shouldf pass this bill without trying so hard to get the republicans on board,cant you see they dont want to help americans. If they have the right solutions why didnt they speak up when bush was in office?

    How can we trust anything they say,If I was a parent who lost a child in a war based on a lie,I'd be marching on bushes front lawn,we invaded a country based on a lie,now we're paying dearly for it.
    God forgive us for allowing this to happen,if we canspend trillions to destroy things,why cant we spend it to build thing like parks,bridges,new schools,etc............

    February 5, 2009 at 2:22 am |
  17. Ryan Hymas

    I am more than happy to hear Pres. Obama state Top executive salary caps. There is no reason why any american in this state of our economy should think of greed. We all should, no matter what our financial status or standing is, be willing to step back and do what is right to assist all of us as neighbors, co-workers, citizens, people, all of us as a nation. The top executives that are willing to stand up and step forth and willing to work with the maximum salary caps will identify strong executives that care about where we are heading as one.

    February 5, 2009 at 2:16 am |
  18. rich

    I'm shocked to see how Obama has let Pelosi run the show on stimulus package...give us all a break, kill the current stimulus and start again with ZERO pork. No pork Mr President here..

    February 5, 2009 at 2:03 am |
  19. Michael Watson

    I agree with the Cap and also believe there should be a Congressional investigation and that people should go to jail. The country is in a confidence crisis and the only thing that will restore confidence is to show that people will be held accountable. I also believe that there needs to be more emphasis on job creation in the stimulus package, either that or the President will have to do a better job at convincing americans that his bill is the right bill. I have confidence and hope with president Obama and his administration. I just pray they all can come to some agreement and pass something quickly and with some teeth before the whole ball of wax comes unravelled.

    February 5, 2009 at 1:56 am |
  20. suzy

    I dislike the large salaries of corporate executives. However, this cap bothers me. If we tie the bailout to government control of salaries what else should we tie to it? How abouts the State bailouts. Should we require that all public employees in the States take a 20% cut in order to get funds? How about the Federal government setting the new State taxes it deems appropriate for each State in order for the State to get the bailout?

    The hypocrisy is also troubling. Our country is in a big mess, in large part because of the failure of the Federal and State governments. What should we require of politicians? A walk of shame, cuts in their pay, ordering them to cut all of the pork in the bill and never spend pork again? The high salaries are bad, but the fat cats aren't the only one to blame. If you are going to put controls on them, why not everyone else?

    February 5, 2009 at 1:36 am |
  21. John Shamblin

    Do I agree? Well, I lost my first business to the 1990 recession. I saw this one coming, and closed my second business in 2007. I lost everything, but didn't bankrupt. Now I'm working at night for $9.50 per hour, and feel lucky to have a job that offers affordable health insurance to a 56 year old man. So, $500K sounds reasonable to me for an execs salary. How hard can that job be? Maybe some of us little guys down here in the trenches should get a bail out. After all, we're the ones that create the vast majority of new jobs.

    February 5, 2009 at 1:30 am |
  22. Dan Lubin

    I think the salary caop is a great thing.. It is important to keep the companies recieving the stimulus in check because they reflect your decision for a stimulus package. Although the execs salaries will be limited to 500K, they can make it up in their bonuses. The bonuses will only be paid after the company repays the government for their loan plus interest. This will encourage a strong work ethic among the execs and their companies. This will recognize businesses for their succes and no longer for their failure.

    February 5, 2009 at 1:22 am |
  23. Trish

    Yes! I Do believe in the crackdown. These top executives get paid way toooo much money along with movie stars and high paid athletes. it is discusting they get paid so much and it is shamful just like President Obama said. I would shake his hand!!

    When I volunteer at our local food bank and see very hungry people who cannot buy food of pay their bills, I wish those high paid executive could volunteer along with me and donate $$$$.

    February 5, 2009 at 1:18 am |
  24. Catherine

    Since we print as much money as is needed to bail out businesses, why can't enough be printed to bail out consumers equally?

    Wouldn't doing this stimulate the economy all around?

    Couldn't money going back into the economy be invested to recover from such debt?

    February 5, 2009 at 1:17 am |
  25. shar

    I believe in the stimulous package, but there is still too much pork in it. i am very happy President Obama is cracking down on the top execs. they show nothing but disrespect toward being bailed out. If I, as a middle class person has to take a pay freeze, they should too.

    February 5, 2009 at 12:49 am |
  26. Donna Crane

    I'm all for the cap on executive salaries if they take bail out money. If they don't want the cap, they don't have to take the money and/or they can leave the company. Someone will be glad to have a $500K capped salary...me included.

    February 5, 2009 at 12:19 am |
  27. Pam G.

    I agree with the cap for CEO's since this is a Federal Bailout. Maybe then they'll wake up and realize that we are in an Economic Crisis. And why are the Reps playing Hardball on the Stimulus Bill? Haven't they realized that they created this crisis?

    February 5, 2009 at 12:03 am |
  28. Judith

    Yes I agree.Their're the ones that want the bail outs and the problems is they aren't just using it for helping people with homes.They are using it for play time and pay themselves.
    If these grown people act like children then they should be treated as children.Why should we let them get away with it while acting like we're blind and foolish.These same banks aren't even loaning to good customers and they up the rates of credit cards to good customers so they are dipping twice.Just like if someone has a home or car they hold the title and when it's paid the customer gets the title.

    February 5, 2009 at 12:01 am |
  29. Vahan M

    if a CEO asks (BEGS) government for money (OUR MONEY) then WE should demand some restrains! $500000 is what a heart surgeon gets paid per year) and NONE of those CEOs had studied as much!
    If they don't feel that $500000/year is enough money, then they don't need the government's help! GREED and STIMULUS are not friends.
    Moreover, this CEOs should agree to work for a salary of an average emloyee of the company to set an example! Then workers/employees of that company will do their job even better.
    It is tough to see your coworkers layed off and your CEO being paid $25000000 (enough to pay 500 employees $50000/year) ! There should be a law to hold those CEOs responsible for "EXTREME GREED" In fact they steal the jobs and incomes of their employees by laying them off and being paid milions in salary and bonuses (FOR WHAT?! FIRING PEOPLE?!)
    Government has to make sure that the STIMULUS really STIMULATES the things it is intended to stimulate!
    And couple of words in general:

    February 4, 2009 at 11:33 pm |
  30. Diane

    Absolutely, I agree with his crackdown. Should have come sooner and should be retroactive.

    I also agree with the stimulus package and wish the Senate would get on with it.
    We need to create jobs. Some jobs are better than no jobs. Action is what's needed.

    February 4, 2009 at 11:30 pm |
  31. TSlater-Illinois

    Salary Cap Brillant and neccessary. Confident in President Obama and his handling of an upside down economic system that has been built on corruption. Welcome to the club CEOs.

    February 4, 2009 at 11:28 pm |
  32. Amelia Monsour

    Instead of giving billions and trillions of dollars to Banks who sqander to their advantage, since there are only 300 million people in thea U.S. why doesn't the government give one million dollars to people who earn less than 300 or 500 thousand a year. Can you imagine how that would stimulate the economy immediately. People love to spend and splurge and every faction of the industries would benefit. It sounds rediculous, but I firmly believe it would work.

    February 4, 2009 at 11:26 pm |
  33. Al Woodson

    Please. All this talk about how are we going to attract the best talent by offering only $500k? The folks who were making millions were supposed to be the best talent and look where they have TAKEN us! Perhaps $500k or less will attract folks who are more in tuned to what's happening and what we need today!

    February 4, 2009 at 11:23 pm |
  34. Greg W.

    i agree with the salary cap. government should be ran just like the sports. (U dont perform your fired!!! Head Coaches lol.) CEO's shouldn't get paid to fail. Who does that? Who buys a 50 mil. dollar plane when people are losing their jobs. The best bailout to me is that everyone's debt should be eliminated (no cash in the consumers hand) and we will start back spending cause now people are saving more than ever due to massive job loss. bailout the consumers then we can stimulate the economy. I won't patent that idea, that is on the house!!

    February 4, 2009 at 11:21 pm |
  35. kevin k

    The salaries should have objectives they need to meet to get bonuses. Just like athletes contracts.

    February 4, 2009 at 11:20 pm |
  36. Chris - Indiana

    I agree with the crackdown. You wouldn't lend your own hard earned money to a friend in tough times who is begging for cash if you knew they would just used it to buy things you yourself coud not afford would you?

    February 4, 2009 at 11:19 pm |
  37. Cara

    The institutions need to be given a clear choice:

    Accept the pay caps or don't take TARP monies. Simple. Problem solved.

    February 4, 2009 at 11:18 pm |
  38. Sharon S

    I agree I think Nancy needs to step down I don't see where she brings anything positive to the house, she is a negative, arrogant selfish woman who only wants what she wants and does not seem to care about the good of the country!

    I think Nancy has been the worst House Speaker we have ever had! I think she let the power go to her head now she's on a power trip and has lost all sight of the real problems that need to be addressed!

    Get rid of her Mr President or you will never get the house to agree on anything that is for the good of our country!

    February 4, 2009 at 11:18 pm |
  39. Ken

    I did not vote for President OBama. I have been very impressed with his attack on the problems left him by Mr. Bush. This is my first time on a blog in 58 years, my President needs support. He is right let them earn 500K and rebuild. We all know they will get wealth beyond belief.
    Phoenix, Az

    February 4, 2009 at 11:18 pm |
  40. Hiroshi Tanimoto

    Who said and decided that millions of dollars per year executive compensation is needed to keep the executives? I bet great many number of able people, many better than the current ones, are willing to work for less than $1 million dollars a year! Give them a chance instead of the current ones who failed.

    Look at the compensation in Japan. Very few executives including Toyota's, Honda's, Sony's and etc. are paid a million dollars a year.

    It is the time we should think what is fair and what is not.


    February 4, 2009 at 11:18 pm |
  41. jennifer

    if they are getting millions of taxpayer dollars, yes there should be regulations including limits on bonuses. you would think the ceo's would want to use the money to help their companies succeed.

    February 4, 2009 at 11:13 pm |
  42. Pete M

    another note...fine, great intentions, cut salaries for senior execs to $500K. not a bad start, but how about compensation incentives to CEO's on the flip side. the fewer jobs you cut the more bonus money you make. us consumers aren't going to energize the economy with zero job security. CEO's will continue to quickly cut jobs for Wall Street and kill the very consumer energy required for success

    February 4, 2009 at 11:09 pm |
  43. Sandy

    Absobamalutely!!! Go Mr. President!

    February 4, 2009 at 11:08 pm |
  44. Nathan

    The cap is a terrible idea. How will those poor executives get by on a paltry half-million?

    February 4, 2009 at 11:08 pm |
  45. Pat

    Why is everyone so scared of "caps" on salaries of companies that accept a bail out? The U.S. gov. has been doing it to schools for years. "If you want gov. money, this is what you do with it." If you spend it otherwise, we take it back.
    As a school employee in School Food Service, I know that they check on us. And they do take back anything that you spent incorrectly. I know that there are schools that say "no thank you" to gov. funding because they want to avoid the controls.

    I think Obama's idea is genius. and fair. The companies don't have to sign on if they don't want the controls.

    February 4, 2009 at 11:03 pm |
  46. eric glennie

    I have an idea on how to spend the Obama Stimulus Package. We should take the $850 billion dollars split it equally among every head of household in the U.S which should equal about $60,000 per household. Place that equal dividend on a goverment issued gift card that can be spent anywhere in the US that accepts credit cards. Credit card companies have no problem finding me and spending stamps to get my business, so the goverment should have an easy and relatively cheap means to distribute the stimulus funds. Remember this money needs to be spent rather than sitting in the bank doing nothing for our economy. Make the gift cards expire after a year with the policy "you dont spend it then you lose it". Corporations would stop firing and start hiring to compete for this new expendible and discretionary household income. The stimulus money will be sent directly to the people who can stimulate the economy by spending our taxpayer money on goods and services , and eliminate the middle men, i.e CEO's and others Mahogony row executives who seem to water-down the money on way on its way down the food chain. Its been proven that giving money to corporation heads doesnt work, so lets give the money directly to the people and see how we can handle this set of stimulus money.

    Just an idea
    Eric Glennie
    fashion designer

    February 4, 2009 at 11:03 pm |
  47. Pete M

    President Obama and congress must stay focused on this key to the stimulus plan – us consumers have to 'want' to borrow money. Low interest rates are irrelevant when my next paycheck is in jeopardy. Give me confidence that I will still have my job for a year or two, I'll spend. But the focus in Washington and on Wall Street is blurry from my couch.

    February 4, 2009 at 10:55 pm |
  48. Adrienne Graham

    I'm torn on this. I am not ok with government telling people what they can make. I believe in free enterprise & would not want a salary cap imposed on me. However, I do agree with President Obama in that if they are getting federal bail out funds, then yes, their salary shoudl eb regulated. Why should they get paid for failure? What precedent does that set? That you can mess up a company all you want and you still get the big bucks. I also think that in regular situations, shareholders shoudl get to dictate salary caps on CEOs.

    February 4, 2009 at 10:52 pm |
  49. susan louise

    I agree with the cap....I am very disturbed by the whistle blower, how long he tried to get heard and no one would listen.. Two weeks ago we all had a lot of self esteem and joy. discovering there were even more "Idiots", more vulgur greed, and disregard for the whole of the United States, is a huge slap in the face and egg on everyone's face.....Pass the bill, and lets move on! We have the leader, we have the heart, roll up our sleeves and GET TO WORK!!!!!

    February 4, 2009 at 10:46 pm |
  50. dan

    Ok let's stop with all the non sense in DC. i mean really. What a waste of time and energy.

    I think Nancy needs to step down she is not really added much and seems to be getting in the way alot.

    we need people that want to work as a team, want to get things done, want to win for the people. I don't see it yet.

    If you want change you need to believe in it and vote the majority of the bums off the hill.

    Clean the house and the senate. Same with state governments. Good government really matters for all of us and for our kids.

    Wanted people that can make policy short and simple and ones that will beneift the people. The new President is going to be great one and the reason is he will keep things short and simple and not let people and policy get lost in the fluff.

    No more 4,000 page documents, I mean really.

    Also once and for all term limits are good for all.

    the president should have 1 6 year term and be done with it, off to writing books and giving speechs, You know I am right but we don't seem to do the things that make sense and right for the country.

    Keep them honest Anderson.


    February 4, 2009 at 10:46 pm |