February 4th, 2009
12:25 PM ET

Morning Buzz: $500,000 Is All You Get!

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/02/04/obama.daschle/art.obama.intvu.cnn.jpg caption="Obama says he "screwed up" and takes full responsibility for the troubled Daschle nomination."]

Penny Manis
AC360° Senior Producer

Anderson is back from DC following his sit-down interview with President Obama at the White House yesterday.

President Obama addressed Tom Daschle’s failed appointment as Health & Human Services Secretary due to tax issues, saying he ‘screwed up’ and takes responsibility for it. He said he didn’t want to send a message to the American people that there are 2 sets of standards, one for powerful people and the other for ordinary folks working and paying taxes.

The vetting process for cabinet appointees was reported to be quite extensive, we may look deeper today into how snags like these didn’t come to light sooner in the process.

Meanwhile, President Obama says he didn’t take the job to occupy the fancy (Oval) office, but came to change things, like the economy for instance. In his words “I'm going to be judged on, have we pulled ourselves out of recession? I think the members of Congress understand that as well”.

Today, President Obama  announces that executives receiving federal bailout money will have their pay capped at $500,000. That sounds like a lot to most of us! But these folks make millions of dollars a year normally. I guess they’ll have to buy only 2 cars instead of 10 this time.

President Obama told Anderson “I think that when you see the announcement that we make, people will say, this is a reasonable approach. It's not a government takeover. Private enterprise will still be taking place. But people will be accountable and responsible. And that's what we have to restore in the financial system generally.”

Randi Kaye examines whether the government can get back any of the millions of taxpayer dollars that have been doled out. There were no restrictions and the money wasn’t exactly used as it was intended (lavish corporate retreats and multi-million dollar office makeovers anyone?). Does the government have the right and authority to take the bailout money back, or did it goof and the horse is out of the barn?

The Senate resumes debate on the economic stimulus package today, we’ll watch Republicans and Democrats go back and forth on this bill which is approaching $900 billion now. Some lawmakers are pushing for provisions in this bill such as cutting mortgage rates, tax rebates for first time homebuyers, and a three month moratorium on foreclosures. We’ll give you the latest.

See u tonight!

Filed under: Penny Manis • The Buzz
soundoff (65 Responses)
  1. Keith S


    As was typical, the Bush administration deceived us by indicating that executive pay would be capped for firms that received TARP funds as we learned when Wall Street dolled out $18.4B. It was complete lip service and deception. And congress played along.

    I’m now appalled to find that the Obama administration is dishing out the same lip service; generating huge placating headlines that say executive pay is capped, but in reality, these caps only apply to a handful of top executives at companies that need “exceptional” assistance. So in fact, this plan basically has little to no effect at all other than calming some taxpayers who aren’t really paying attention. All things being equal, Wall Street firms would conceivably be able to pay out $18.3B instead of $18.4B; its complete lip service and deception. It’s appalling that the Obama administration is doing the same tricks as Bush.

    Caps should not be limited to top executives or limited to those in need of exceptional assistance. If firms are in such bad shape that they need to take any tax payer money, money from families some of which have lost their jobs and are struggling to put food on the table, then bonuses should be capped, for all employees of those firms.

    I urge CNN to show viewers in clear detail how little affect these current caps will have and expose this deception.

    February 5, 2009 at 8:47 am |
  2. Deborah M (CA)

    Anderson, I have been saying from the very beginning (starting way back with Countrywides duping those trying to buy a home) this is FRAUDULENT behavior. I believe that these big company execs have asked for and gotten bail-outs FRAUDULENTLY, dishonestly, and are subject to CLAWBACKS!!! That 18Billion could at least be a start; SHOULD be required as a beginning payback. They are crooks, look at thier photos, there is no remorse from these guys. They have literally RUINED hundreds of thousands lives. THEY HAVE TO BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE, PERIOD. In California, if you apply for state aid you must spend down to POVERTY level before you would even be considered for assistance!!!!!! Why should these guys get away with such dishonesty? HOLD THEM ACCOUNTABLE TO THE FULLEST EXTENT OF THE LAW. If we need to amend the laws to seek repayment of these monies, assets, etc., LET IT BE..... DM

    February 5, 2009 at 4:04 am |
  3. Bob

    I applaud President Obama for taking a stand and setting some reasonable rules for executive pay. Wall Street's greed and arrogance are totally out of control. We have to find a way to get more money distributed to the middle class instead of concentrating the wealth in this country in the hands of a small minority.

    February 4, 2009 at 11:44 pm |
  4. Gigie

    Hi Anderson,

    The new string attached to the Wall Street CEOs’ salaries is a fantastic idea. If these greedy CEOs wish to quit and go work for someone else because 500K per year is too little for them, FINE!!!

    Who would hire them anyway after their failure in running our money? And if some private companies do hire them, we the American People, can/will stop supporting these companies’ business. Simple!

    Gigie (Bead-mania)

    February 4, 2009 at 11:26 pm |
  5. sandi

    the 500k CEO pay gap is a great step to get our economy on the right path forward. If only some of those CEOs spread their salary around our country wouldn't have so many people unemployed. So many of these bailed companies laid off thousand of people and they went home with millions . While some many Americans don't have money to support their families and now are living off credit cards. It's not fair . I have no kids and have a strong family support system but many of my ex associates don't have that . It's not fair .

    February 4, 2009 at 11:24 pm |
  6. Rafael

    This limit is good. Those top management guys making millions a year are part of the reason why the economy is how it is. They should be affected as well.
    Also, Anderson said that it "might be difficult to keep the talent" .... why keep "talent" that has proven ineffective or at worse incompetent. Lets change the heads, let them go and replace them with new talent.
    May be Pres. Obama should put that money back in the people instead of bailing out banks, let the people decide what to do with their money ... let them pay their mortgages, or buy new cars or invest in new business, or save. That should be the bail for those companies.

    February 4, 2009 at 11:18 pm |
  7. Virginia

    I voted for President Obama and a lot of other people I know did also
    most of them don't have access to the blog or polls, but they count. I want the President to remember the silent people, the ones that cannot express their opinions all the time. He was left a mess and the republicans should be ashamed.

    February 4, 2009 at 11:03 pm |
  8. Rick North Carolina

    My God, Common sense, Could it be coming from washington. well there is always a first time. And it about time. Never have so few been paid so much to totally screw up. And still there not get why were mad.

    I thought a bonus was paid for doing a good job. not bringing the company to the edge of disaster.

    February 4, 2009 at 10:55 pm |
  9. Bertha

    There should be a limit on the amount those big executives receive. I think they are laughing all the way to the bank. They are taking our tax dollars and forgetting that it came from us. They did not earn it. They are being rewarded for doing nothing.

    February 4, 2009 at 10:53 pm |
  10. Marcelia

    If anyone believes that it's only these Democrats that Obama wanted to appoint that are having tax problems, then I believe that they should poll some of the Republicans. . . better yet all of the house regarding their tax issues. I'll bet there to be a lot of skeletons out there in those tax closets.

    February 4, 2009 at 10:48 pm |
  11. geri

    the ceo;s are not worth the big 5,o keep them gready gready gready
    on a very tight line with not one excuse to be excepted,that much money for one man ,know man is worth that give them one hundred
    thousand .live like the comman man....

    IfI had money in Bank of America would close it out .

    February 4, 2009 at 10:47 pm |
  12. Patricia Lite Hickman

    I appreciate the attempt here, but $500,000 when bailout money still has to be paid back? I think that's too high!

    Hopefully in this next bailout there will be provisions for no bonus to CEO's unless and until the bailout is paid back.

    February 4, 2009 at 10:42 pm |
  13. Utopus

    Hm...my previous comment was moderated off this blog. I wonder why? All I said was – why should anyone get paid more than $500k? Generally those are the kind of jobs peoples should thanks their lucky starts they get the chance to do. Some people would even pay to do them. The only possibly objectionable thing I did was to apply this sentiment personally to Anderson Cooper himself – who I assume makes a fair bit more than this.

    February 4, 2009 at 10:35 pm |
  14. Amy Toro

    The 'Rangel Rule' I feel discriminates against hard working Americans. I would like the same privilege of receiving an interest free loan from the government. It would be fair in these hard economic times that the average American family who needs an interest free loan to avoid financial ruin or financial hardship not pay taxes. They should have the option to pay a few years later. These would have prevented a lot of home foreclosures.

    How about a tax reduction for the Americans who pay their taxes for five years in a row on time and in full?

    The 'Rangel Rule' would stimulate more non-payments of taxes.
    Please, stimulate the prompt payment of timely taxes with incentives by a reduction of their taxes. Make it an advantage pay on time. thanks

    February 4, 2009 at 10:34 pm |
  15. Peter

    Anderson, our country's compensation schedules are TOTALLY out of whack with reality and have been for some time. It's a national free agent system where we crave the brightest and the best and are willing to pay whatever it takes to get them. Whether it's for a sports team, a Hollywood movie or an executive suite. Is anyone REALLY worth $14 million? Does anyone really do $21 million worth of 'work' in a year compared to the average slug? I don't think so. They most capable have certainly earned their pay. But there are plenty of others for whom I think the payscales are totally out of scale with the performance they've provided.

    February 4, 2009 at 10:30 pm |
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