March 16th, 2009
03:13 PM ET

President Obama: Block AIG bonuses

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/03/16/art.obama.012709.jpg]
Mike Allen & Eamon Javers

Harnessing public outrage over lavish bonuses for bailed-out executives at insurance giant AIG, President Obama said Monday that he will “pursue every single legal avenue to block these bonuses and make the American taxpayers whole.”

Obama made his forceful remarks at a small-business event at the White House, following a weekend of heavy news coverage of the payments that fueled the populist backlash already building against bailouts for the wealthy.

“This isn’t just a matter of dollars and cents. It’s about our fundamental values,” Obama said.
“All across the country, there are people who work hard and meet their responsibilities every single day, without the benefit of government bailouts or multi-million dollar bonuses,” Obama said. “And all they ask is that everyone, from Main Street to Wall Street to Washington, play by the same rules.”


soundoff (36 Responses)
  1. Harshad Sheth

    Do not pay the Bonuses:

    1. Let the employees quit if they do not like it.
    2. Fire the employees insisting on the bonuses.
    3. Let them sue in a court and fight their suites with all the resources of the govt. Let us really see if their contracts are so ironclad as AIG claims.

    Let us just see, how many quit and sue...

    March 17, 2009 at 1:38 am |
  2. Luis

    AIG is insolvent.

    They shouldn't be allowed to give those Bonuses out. These guy's ran the company into the ground by taking huge risk, and now they want a bonus.

    No way.

    March 17, 2009 at 12:27 am |
  3. Hal L. Rose

    AIG's argument that they are contractually bound to pay the $160 million bonuses overlooks the fact that they are practically a wholly owned subsidiary of the US Taxpayer. If it had not been for you and I, AIG would have gone into bankruptcy & a bankruptcy court judge would have terminated the contract awarding the bonuses. It is simply incomprehensible that these big shots get millions of dollars in bonuses for running the company into the ground. How does that work? Surely, the contact that Treasury executed with AIG, contained a clause which permitted the government to terminate contracts for good cause. If not, then the lawyers at the Treasury Department are bigger idiots than the AIG execs. The other argument that AIG uses is that their executives will go to other companies. I say, go ahead. AIG should not want executives that will run their company into the ground.

    March 17, 2009 at 12:14 am |
  4. David McCrory

    Here's a thought, if they are contractually obligated to pay the bonuses, then lfire them and replace them. I lost my job in January. I'm sure their base salary is more than I was making.

    March 16, 2009 at 10:43 pm |
  5. ck Hicks

    Why can't President Obama use a presidential proclamation or executive order, check #8533, 10289, 11269, 11822 to stop AIG bonuses? this is wrong surely the President has leverage to stop errors in laws.

    March 16, 2009 at 10:01 pm |

    The goverment should take over AIG. The bonuses should be paid out to the employees. To compensate the employees who put AIG in this position, payment should be made in the toxic assets that they created.

    March 16, 2009 at 8:47 pm |
  7. Mike

    I am an autoworker and I am being told by republican members of the house and senate that I am over paid and unproductive and should give up benefits, pay and bonuses. But their silence on AIG is deafening to the middle class.

    March 16, 2009 at 7:23 pm |
  8. Lynne

    Yes, Anderson. Thank You....There should be SOME way
    that the Federal Govt or a presidential executive order perhaps...
    could indeed block these huge bonuses that companies
    are giving out....after they have been the recipient of Federal
    bail out funds. This is immoral .....very immoral.

    March 16, 2009 at 5:51 pm |
  9. Jim

    Thats the kind of job that got us into this mess- The attitude of- "Sit on my behind , do nothing but drive the company I work for into the ground & take the country with it & get PAID handsomly For doing it!" Has Got to come to a sreaching HALT!!!!!!! I'm ammazed These people have not been shot by those that have been screwed out of their life savings, retirement, Homes.

    March 16, 2009 at 5:37 pm |
  10. Yvonne

    After hearing what AIG plans to do with some of the bonus money, here is what the government should do. Take back the money, and tell the AIG execs that their bonuses will be disbursed as AIG stock options.

    March 16, 2009 at 5:25 pm |
  11. David Canada

    Correction Hands Off

    March 16, 2009 at 5:25 pm |
  12. David Canada

    You cannot justify paying a bonus for failure. Let them go bankrupt.Simple economics[ Laisse faire] [Hand Off]

    March 16, 2009 at 5:24 pm |
  13. Anon

    When did the US Government turn into corporate patrol? Where has our "free economy" disappeared to? It used to be when a company does bad then it disappears into history and our "free economy" allows someone else to take over or start a new company to do it. When did we get away from these practices?

    I do not like that AIG paid bonuses, but a contract exists with employees and it is legally binding. Next time the government should have minded its own business and let AIG fail the way it should have months ago.

    March 16, 2009 at 4:54 pm |
  14. Sharon L Hill, Deltona, FL

    People like Ryan need to do their homework more before making ignorant statements. I'm in foreclosure because I chose to follow God's 5th comandment which has now made me unemployable and unable to fimanance.mu now dead mother's home that I shared with her while I provided her care without a paycheck beleiving I would be able to go back to work after held death. Over a year after her death still no job even with a BA and my savings is almost gone. So don't lump me in with Bank of America who took advantage of my mother and violated lending laws so they could steal the house. Yes I bare a pprtion of the rsponsability for a portion of my situation but it wasn't from greed or deception.

    March 16, 2009 at 4:50 pm |
  15. Dawn

    What is stopping the IRS from auditing AIG's "Best and Brightest" that are receiving these bonuses? Anyone who helped a company lose billions of dollars and still feels entitled to a bonus has probably been less than honest on their tax returns.

    March 16, 2009 at 4:45 pm |
  16. Isabel, Brazil

    AIG executives receive $ 165 million in bonuses.

    If AIG can pay these bonuses – why does the government need to help??
    Not only the President was indignant ... Any reasonable person was too!

    March 16, 2009 at 4:34 pm |
  17. Alice Robledo

    I applaud our President and support his efforts to block AIG bonuses. "We want our money back"!!

    March 16, 2009 at 4:32 pm |
  18. JF

    When will the USA realize that this land of the so call free, was
    made by people who give theirselfs much more then they will
    ever give others.This USA knew went the big money roll out,
    who will always get very big pay days. Am I the only one who can
    see that the USA is not going to ever change. Study the past to see
    what's coming. Study the Rich People past to see what they can
    and will do. Who do you think is running this USA . The business
    owners that's who. It's like playing with a snake and getting mad
    it bite you.

    March 16, 2009 at 4:26 pm |
  19. Britaron

    The greed and corruption of the banking sector, in particular AIG, seems to know no end.

    I think what President Obama should do about AIG's bonus latest bonuses is this: he can tell AIG that unless all the affected employees of AIG voluntarily return the bonuses immediately, the White House will publish the names (and photos too, preferably) of all the people involved in this scam and let public shame and the metaphorical lynch mob do the job of ensuring these greedy-assed people won't be able to get a job in any capacity with any future financial or corporate institution.

    Perhaps this form of punishment might be enough to convince AIG to relent in its dastardly ways. Certainly, the notion of turning these unscrupulous people into public pariahs has an appealing flavor.


    Victoria, British Columbia

    March 16, 2009 at 4:21 pm |
  20. Bob Thompson

    All the US Government has to do is advise AIG that before paying the bonuses, all the money advanced from the US treasury has to be repaid.

    If they can repay the US Treasury, then they don't need help. If they can't repay the US treasury, they don't have the funds necessary to pay the bonuses.

    It doesn't get much simpler than that !!

    March 16, 2009 at 4:12 pm |
  21. Julie

    I can't understand why the american people are so angry
    at the present admin regarding the AIG bonus – I am very
    upset that this was allowed in the first place. Do these
    guys have it together with the future of all the other
    monies being spent? This is beyond explanation......
    This "oversight" has left my confidance very low –
    AIG has the government by the balls.

    March 16, 2009 at 4:10 pm |
  22. Dave

    Got An AIG accidental insurance ad in my Citi-Mortage bill. What goes on here? Where did our money really go?

    March 16, 2009 at 4:08 pm |
  23. Mike Lavimodiere

    Obama Is Doing What Is Right!
    Even If A.I.G. Weasels It's Way Into Saving There Bonuses..!

    What Is A Company Without It's Customers???

    Good Luck A.I.G. ....LOL

    March 16, 2009 at 4:07 pm |
  24. Antonio

    It's outrageous. AIG excecutives should be lay off. President Obama should give an excecutive order stopping any bonuses.

    March 16, 2009 at 4:01 pm |
  25. paulernestshow

    Right thing to do. These folks are unamerican and unpatriotic. Their salaries are enough to bail out many homeowners and yet they ask for bonuses. Men! how did I end up here. Should have been working on Wall street. Greedy folks

    March 16, 2009 at 3:54 pm |
  26. Ryan

    correction above–breach of contract

    March 16, 2009 at 3:53 pm |
  27. Ryan

    I propose that the Government allow AIG to fail, the Dow fall to 5000, and the S&P fall to 500. Allow the foreclosures to go through–after all it was ignorant—lying buyers, crooked bankers, and greedy investors. This country's economy has been due for a correction for many years. Here it is! I would also suggest less media coverage regarding this "crisis" in an effort to clam the American people. We get it! Trust me, we all get it!
    Regarding the AIG bonuses...screw the contracts involved, refuse to pay the bonuses based on poor management performance and let them sue for breech of contract. There isn't a jury in America that would award these crooks their undue bonuses for driving their respective companies in the toilet.

    March 16, 2009 at 3:48 pm |
  28. jon arne

    Hey, I have a novel idea. Why doesn't the government (our elected officials) do their jobs and do the necessary homework BEFORE bailing out companies with our money ..?!! A little up front investigation could go a VERY long way instead of just throwing our money at a situation.. Who should we be angry with again??

    March 16, 2009 at 3:44 pm |
  29. Melissa

    Time to let them fail.

    March 16, 2009 at 3:44 pm |
  30. Michael C. McHugh

    The government already owns 80% or more of AIG, so I think they should do something about this. I'm an AIG shareholder now and I DEMAND that they do something about it! Of course, I bought those shares exactly because I knew the government would never let a big company like that fail.

    Anyhow, as an AIG shareholder, I demand my rights! I'm a capitalist now, too, which means they have to listen to me!

    March 16, 2009 at 3:39 pm |
  31. Robert

    Why don’t the they just let the big banks and institution fail if they plan for failure put the necessary steps in place to deal with the economy bottoming out in business you can plan for it why cant the government

    Stop this patching and let the whole this crash then rebuild

    March 16, 2009 at 3:37 pm |
  32. Juan Mota

    Without the Bail out there would be no AIG
    Without AIG these contracts would be Void
    Without AIG these execs would not have a Job
    Without a Job there would be no Bonuses

    March 16, 2009 at 3:30 pm |
  33. Dylan Granville

    IF they cant get out of the contract to pay the bonuses legally; As the government control 80% of the company, they ought to tell anyone who is collecting a bonus, that their names will be given to the media, and they will be made to come and collect their cheques with the TV cameras rolling.

    March 16, 2009 at 3:27 pm |
  34. Michael "C" Lorton, Virginia

    Dear Mr. President: Sometimes what is fundmentally and morally wrong -is contractually and legally correct and is where greed and usury finds safe haven--best of luck-–you are surely going to need it.

    March 16, 2009 at 3:25 pm |
  35. Diane N.

    So they are getting bonuses to fail the company so badly that the company needs billions in government money??? I sure wish I could fail that good on a job. What a damn embarrassment to this country.

    March 16, 2009 at 3:24 pm |
  36. Michael "C" Lorton, Virginia

    Sometimes what is fundmentally and morally wrong can be legally and contractually correct---best of luck-–you are going to need it.

    March 16, 2009 at 3:20 pm |