March 17th, 2009
01:07 PM ET

AIG needs to be taught who's boss

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/US/03/15/AIG.banks.list/art.aig.door.gi.jpg]

David Gewirtz | BIO
Editor-in-Chief, ZATZ Publishing

It's time for the White House to "man up" and put AIG out of our misery. Over the past six months, the U.S. government has given or loaned AIG more than $173 billion taxpayer dollars as compensation for an incredible inability to run a company properly.

And now, due to "contractual obligations", AIG wants to give its oh-so-talented management staff more than $165 million in bonuses. This is after taking billions from the U.S. government and spending it on lavish retreats at California spas and English hunting lodges. Oh, and they also gave more than $30 billion (yes, with a "b") of our money to foreign banks.

In the words of Nancy Reagan, it's time to "Just say no".

AIG is the nation's largest insurance company. Fundamentally, the business model for an insurance company is to bet against its customers. For AIG to win, many of its customers have to lose.

However, our problem with AIG is not the insurance business model. We rely on insurance companies to spread - not the wealth - but the risk, among us all.

For example, we all know the insurance-based healthcare system in this country is pretty sick. Think about it - for the insurance model to work, a healthy policy owner is paying money and receiving nothing in return, except for the feeling that he or she is protected. A sick policy holder is costing the insurance company money, so it's in the company's natural best interest to avoid paying for as long as possible, and pay as little as possible.

This is a tough game even for well-run insurance companies, especially as the actual costs of health care go up along with life expectancies.

Of course, AIG insures a lot more than just health. They sell all kinds of insurance and have holdings in virtually every business sector. They got in trouble with mortgages, like so many others in the finance sector.

The problem is that AIG has not distinguished itself as a company trying to turn itself around. It's given off no signals of humility or even an indication of a desire to learn from its mistakes.

Instead, it's showing the most venal side of corporate greed. Management is doing nothing to allay the impression that we're giving billions to a company whose sole trade skill is withholding payment. Not exactly a great investment for Uncle Sam.

The management team at AIG is riding this windfall for all it's worth, and it's worth plenty. They claim that they've got performance contracts that require these managers to be paid millions. Their secondary, laughable claim is that in order to keep such "stellar" talent, they need to pay such exorbitant sums.

I believe extraordinary talent should be paid extraordinarily well. The flip side is that screw-ups should not be rewarded. Rewarding failure isn't a good business practice. And when you work for a company that's so badly run as to require billions of dollars from American taxpayers just to stay in business, you have not earned your performance bonus.

News reports indicate that the White House is trying to find a legal means to prevent AIG from paying out the bonuses. How about the threat of incarceration?

This ain't my first dance and I've been around the block a whole bunch of times. For a company to be able to lose so much money with such abandon, there must be some freaky skeletons in its closet.

I suspect if the President were to deploy a team of forensic FBI accountants and another team of IRS investigators to AIG, the management team there would suddenly decide that 2009 isn't really the year to take these obscene bonuses.

Treason, like obscenity, takes many forms. You know it when you see it. What AIG is doing is un-American and comes dangerously close to treason. Although the company originally started in China, the initials AIG stand for American International Group. It's time for AIG stop the obscenity, put America first, and live up to values the word "American" stands for.

In return for our billions, we the people now own 79.9 percent of AIG. That makes the President of the United States, acting on behalf of the American people, the top shareholder at AIG. In any company, the majority shareholder is the boss. It's time for the management team at AIG to be taught who's boss.

Editor’s note: David Gewirtz is Editor-in-Chief, ZATZ Magazines, including OutlookPower Magazine. He is a leading Presidential scholar specializing in White House email. He is a member of FBI InfraGard, the Cyberterrorism Advisor for the International Association for Counterterrorism & Security Professionals, a columnist for The Journal of Counterterrorism and Homeland Security, and has been a guest commentator for the Nieman Watchdog of the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University. He is a faculty member at the University of California, Berkeley extension, a recipient of the Sigma Xi Research Award in Engineering and was a candidate for the 2008 Pulitzer Prize in Letters.

Filed under: Bailout Turmoil • David Gewirtz • Economy • Finance • Raw Politics
soundoff (217 Responses)
  1. Mike Probst

    I am so mad that these executives get bonuses for doing a terrible job. It is our money and we own the company, they must return the money or serve jail time for disrupting the safety of our company and our country.

    I have a bad feeling that this is happening in alot of our corporations. There is no ethics. Do they even teach it in colleges any more. This problem needs to be cleaned up, I support all of Obama's efforts on this problem and I hope he does more.

    Business, news media and politics have all gone mad, corrections need to be made.

    Power to the people !

    March 17, 2009 at 11:27 pm |
  2. Alain Rodriguez

    I am ready to sue the Federal Government if they do not get ALL the money AIG used to pay bonuses back. Please do not tax that money, GET IT BACK..Reason number 1) Where were all those "talented" individuals when AIG was working on the red? none of them said a word..maybe because they didn't care since at the end of the year any way they will be cashing out on whatever. Reason number 2) Where was the CEO or the HR deparment for AIG when last year they realized how in bad shape they were and did not think to redo these contracts with these talented individuals. Reason number 3) We, the people own 80% of this company and nobody asked me before they paid these talented individuals. I am suing to get my hard earned tax dollars back because at least if I want to give it out, I'll choose to who.

    March 17, 2009 at 11:27 pm |
  3. Gary Webber

    It's time to lock up the entire executive board of AIG and charge them with world wide consumer fraud. Then AIG needs to be broken down into about a dozen separate companies. These companies need to be governed by strong federal banking laws and ethics rules!! Also, since the taxpayer supposedly owns 80% of the company, there should be oversight by Congress! On the second thought; maybe that oversight should be delegated to to the FBI ! I don't know if there are that many honest representatives left in Washington.

    March 17, 2009 at 11:25 pm |
  4. terry henson

    when it comes to AIG ,they say they have a contract and cant get the money back .seems to me not long ago we had a president that made the air traffic controlers go back to work and abandon there strike even though they had a contract .

    March 17, 2009 at 11:24 pm |
  5. Todd

    What the bottom line is here is that "we the people" have not had, for some time, anyone protecting the american people or the best interests of this great country!

    The fact that this type of thing is going on given our current economy is unjust and unfair to all tax payers. More specifically tax payers that have been and still are struggeling to make ends meet. What about all the people accross this country that no longer even have the ability to pay taxes and have lost their job (in many cases due to no small part by companies like IAG) supposed to do? Where is their bailout?
    Where are they supposed to find the strength to persavere when their own government has just handed out the taxes from their last check to bail out the ones that put them in the unemployment line!!!!!

    If this is how our leaders and representatives are going to protect us and fix our economic problems that not only should the poeple being "rewarded" for incompitence be sent directly to the un-employment line so should our "government protectors of the people" who have allowed this to happen!!!!!!

    We, the american people/tax-payers have had no say in this but yet we are stuck paying the bill...............WE ARE BIENG TAKEN ADVANTAGE OF!!!!

    March 17, 2009 at 11:21 pm |
  6. kt

    shameful..shameful for the executives issuing the bonuses and shameful for those accepting the bonuses....

    March 17, 2009 at 11:18 pm |
  7. Wendy Rolf

    If these people at AIG knowingly made loans to people that they were clear could not repay them.... why isn't there legal action that could be taken. I have spoken with an employee who says everyone knew what they were doing was a scam... why can't these individuals be prosecuted??????

    Why can't audits identify crooks. Track them down and throw them in jail for lying, stealing, and greed.

    March 17, 2009 at 11:17 pm |
  8. Susan

    There's no one at AIG worth retaining, so why should they get a retention bonus; AIG can't fail? They already have. US Gov't is only prolonging the problem; there is no money; there is no insurance; there is nothing left at AIG but greedy corrupt executives. They should not get our tax $'s.

    It seems the folks in Washington who voted for the bail out are the only Americans surprised by AIG's depth of greed and corruption; the rest of us knew it to begin with, which is why we begged our representatives to vote against the bail out.

    Finally - if Congress can make an emergency law to give them $, why can't they make an emergency law to take it back AND prevent a lawsuit. How dare the AIG liars start crying fowl because we are outraged at their continued greed and corruption.

    March 17, 2009 at 11:17 pm |
  9. dave

    If AIG has 74 million insurance policyholders and are obviously very succesful in the insurance business.............why do they need any bailout money at all??

    We should be cutting taxes for the people that pay them. Want to keep your job?.......the people who pay the taxes are the ones who start companies and hire people.

    Wake up America..........you can not SPEND your way out of a recession.

    It won't work...........it has never worked!

    March 17, 2009 at 11:17 pm |
  10. Gary

    I am outraged at these bonuses, as well as any bonus for these failed Wall Street executives.

    It's funny: for years these executives would fight every proposed government regulation or tax on the grounds it was anti-capitalist, anti-market. But these same Wall Street Executives to me are the ultimate anti-capitalists.

    In capitalism, you are rewarded when you succeed, and receive no rewards when you fail. Yet these people are rewarded whether they succeed or fail. They are just like the cronies in a state run economy who make out with the money regardless. Of course, they always preached accountability to their rank and file employees.

    I will say this, though: as outrageous as this is, I do feel the media is being typically hyperbolic in its coverage of this. Let's move through this rationally, and without all the hyped up emotion. Regardless of how unjust this is, we usually don't make good decisions out of sheer anger.

    March 17, 2009 at 11:17 pm |
  11. Andy

    CNN reported this in January. Where is the government? Let's not let them off of the hook. Incompetense is incompetence.

    March 17, 2009 at 11:16 pm |
  12. Obs

    How many of the London-based AIG executives who received bonuses were US citizens?

    March 17, 2009 at 11:14 pm |
  13. KO

    Wonder if anyone else agrees that it is rather ironic that Anastashia Kelly, who is now the Vice Chairman at AIG, worked at Fannie Mae and WorldCom. Someone should figure out how much she has made off of troubled companies.

    March 17, 2009 at 11:14 pm |
  14. Jonathan

    All those AIG bonuses add up to one earmark. The bonuses were protected by the law, the earmarks were pushed threw despite the law.

    March 17, 2009 at 11:14 pm |
  15. Eric Merriweather

    Anderson Cooper or whoever is willing to listen. I hear that you all are discussing this situation with AIG and the bonuses that individuals received. Please correct me if I am wrong, these contract were established for these top leaders in AIG based on them earning the revenue for the organization and if that is the case why are they been paid bonuses that were never earned by the company. The monies received were for a bailout and not earned income for the organization. I am listening now as I type and they are stating that they are contractually liable, but is that liability based on company revenue. So my question is how does a bailout from the government constitute income made by the organization for them to receive bonuses.

    March 17, 2009 at 11:10 pm |
  16. Carla

    Why cant we as owners of AIG, let specific divisions within AIG fail. I understand the overall picture of letting AIG fail. However, it make sense to me that you sell or elimiate the useless divisions. The ones that received the bonus were useless to the company, the ones who invested to where we had to bail out the company.

    March 17, 2009 at 11:09 pm |
  17. James Hidle

    I understand everybody is mad about the AIG bonuses of 165 million and I am too, I think AIG needs to give the money back, but what makes me even more mad than that and that is AIG gave about 20 Billion dollas to bank in other countries.

    March 17, 2009 at 11:08 pm |
  18. Dennis M. Toles MPA SPHR

    Get serious about this situation and be aware that the American public has just been operating with their heads in the sand about how the global economy and the economic attacks on our country coincide. American corporations and government must repay foreign investors that have poured American dollars (that are in surplus in their economies). In part this originated from our desire to move to becoming a service economy (remember we exported or allowed our corporate citizens to do so for investor gains), and we were going to be in the new knowledge business (however, we are not willing to provide economic support to our education systems). A great portion of our system of financing our insatiable desires (that are in large part financed by foreign investors) would be in default. Because of this possibility, we could be directly contributing to the shrinking worth of the US dollar in the global economy, therefore making the value of the dollar almost worthless. There would be harsh negative spillover effects if this were to happen. The repayment of our loans and keeping our relationships with foreign investors are a primary concern to our over leveraged way of life. We allowed the corporations to avoid paying taxes and avoid dealing with rising costs and demands from American workers by supporting their choices to expand their operations outside of the taxing and regulations jurisdiction of the United States. We took short-term gains in the stock market as payoff, while we watched out financial base be destroyed by the dismantling forces of greed. Now that we have destroyed many aspects and assets that gave this country an economic advantage throughout the world, we can see the corresponding results of the economic cold war. That economic attack has heated up and allowed all of our adversaries to participate in taking our conspicuous consumption and cultural arrogance (often displayed prominently by American tourist who treated foreigners poorly while guests in their country) and using it against us. Now we are in the same or worst situation as many other overpopulated countries that do not have control of the production of goods and services required to support their citizens. Related implications for government include a questioning of the government's legitimacy because the citizens expect that the government must be able to guarantee this basic level of socioeconomic security to the citizens. Our corporations in the economic system we utilize are the fiscal intermediaries for providing this security. However, when corporate greed causes diminished returns to be ignored by keeping a critical mass of the population profiting at their fellow Americans' expense, those in economic power are induced to look the other way and blame the victims of the economic disparity created by the system. The people that took the bonus money and left AIG did so because they knew what to expect as fallout from the new owners (i.e., the American taxpayers). Many of the recipients of these corporations’ derived profits will be foreign investors. We must honor their investments in order to keep getting credit. This is a classical low-level equilibrium trap. The answer is for America to return to competitive innovation. This step requires that the country must invest in infrastructure, education, and American development over developing other countries in the short term in order to make our long-term future prospects lie within the scope of our boundaries and under our own control. The stimulus is essential, and should have been part of our ongoing patriotic responsibilities. We neglected our country for far too long. This self-neglect allowed our adversaries to overtake us and challenge our standing in the world.

    March 17, 2009 at 11:05 pm |
  19. Jeffery Wallgren IL taxpayer

    I'm at a loss,I went to my local hometown bank to try an get a note to buy a 1995 truck and was told no cause I have bout three thousand$ in credit debt! That's all a lousy 3grand keepin me from securing a note or loan 4 2grand!yet these terrorist in congress can just give my tax dollars 2 other terrorist all over the world? Let them all rot in hell! I hope those elite a-holes all rot in hell! I'm neither dem or rep,cause ALL Politicans and lawyers r gonna send our children and grandchildren into the devils lake of fire!!!

    March 17, 2009 at 11:04 pm |
  20. jt walker

    I want to know why AC360 hasn't reported that the recently passed $400+ billion spending bill of earmarks, pork, etc. endorsed by P.O.o.R. (Pelosi Obama or Reid) has a pay INCREASE for federal government bureaucrats of about 4%.

    So while millions of working Americans face looming unemployment, paycuts, and financial insecurity, Obama and friends decided now is the best time to celebrate their "success" with a raise! Considering that investment portfolios have lost an average of 20% since this bunch was inaugurated, AIG exec's are in some good company.

    The one bright spot in all of this is that the American people will be reminded that a top-down, liberal elitist government in Washington does nothing but squander our dollars and limit our liberty. And all in the first 100 days.

    GOP2012. Renewed. Recommitted. Republican.

    March 17, 2009 at 11:00 pm |
  21. Nik

    AIG executives need to be required to give their "contractual bonuses" to the "Unemployment" funds in their respective states. I know there has got to be a clause in the "Bailout Agreement" which says they cannot accept anymore $$$ from the company...right?. Please tell me Bush & his administration did not go out like that!!! I think their chlidren & grandchildren should be held accountable in the future for the stupidity of their parents in the "Present". After all their trust funds are being paid with our Tax Dollars.

    March 17, 2009 at 10:54 pm |
  22. Andyf

    Hi CNN from a viwer in Romania,

    I find this absolutely Amazing,

    AIG is one of the largest if not the largest insurance companies in the world with offices in just about every country and with millions of clients from the guy in the street to oil companies. Where has all the money gone from all these clients.

    AIG ask for help and if no help is found the company will fail and many will loose jobs and then even more costs to the state. A kind of blackmail isnt it. if its not blackmail then search for the corruption. It will be one or the other.

    March 17, 2009 at 10:46 pm |
  23. Monte

    I agree with all of the blogs that I have read, but I think that this kind of outright greed has infected all coprorations CEO's. I currently work for Hewlett Packard and when a CEO can walk away with over $42 million dollars of a corporation money in a 1 year period is outright greed! Even tho the employees think that HP is "cold" and the atmosphere within the walls of HP very bleek these days, coprorate CEO's do not want to hear the bad things that are happening within their own companies.
    The days of companies/corporation truely believing that the employees make the company/corporation are long gone. CEO's would rather sacrafice quality and good employees for the price of money savings.
    Corporations have played a big part making this country what it is today, but now they are playing a part in destroying what they have built! SAD.....very SAD!

    March 17, 2009 at 10:46 pm |
  24. veronica in California

    hmm, 11 associates left after receiving their bonus. what executive retained them? I would think the executive that authorize them to be retain should be called to the senate to fully explain. What did they try to accomplish and did they come close. What plan did they have in place....oh come on. Its the top 11 cronies, lets face it. Nobody tried to save the company because someone would have come forward to present an awesome plan & i don't think a soul did.

    March 17, 2009 at 10:43 pm |
  25. carol

    How can AIG give away a bonus? I thought a bonuses were earned for a job well done!!! Sound like there should have been a lot of people fired!!
    And stop reporting the AIG is too big to fail because they have and now I have to give money to them to pay off bad debits. I hope we are getting 26.99% interest back just like the normal high risk person is offered.

    March 17, 2009 at 10:38 pm |
  26. Driller1

    Err....sell every thing we own.........and get the money back QQ

    March 17, 2009 at 10:38 pm |
  27. shirley wright

    Why doesn't the Government pay every tax payer $1million each with the stipulation that – We pay our homes, cars and credit cards off first
    Then the banks , automobile companies, and credit card companies
    would be o.k. and our Gov. would save soo much money. I think we have somewhere around 300,Million people total in this country. anybody out there got a better solution. Obama is asking the Rep. for ideas. Let's give him some of ours. I'm talking pennies and dimes compared to the billions they are wasting.

    March 17, 2009 at 10:38 pm |
  28. Alex

    Lets the truth be told! AIG's actions with this bonus business is immoral! But we are also seeing that Obama has made a HUGE error in selecting Tim Gitner as Treasury Secretary. Gitner is to Obama what Paulsen was to Bush. Both these guys (Gitner & Paulsen) are either complete idiots and have no idea what they are doing or else they are paying off their buddies in the private section. Either way, Gitner is going to ruin this country if Obama doesn't get rid of him. But then again, perhaps our new President is already in over his ideological head anyway!

    March 17, 2009 at 10:37 pm |
  29. Janet E. Powell

    Our treasurer has just been on the job approximately fifty days. There were many, many things he had to do and few hours to examine his huge job and respond when Congress and others wanted a complete plan. How could he or any honest person examine the mess left to him and figure out what to do to go forward in that short time? The C.E.O. who gave out the money must be dealt with. If any more money is given to AIG, those bonuses must be subtracted. That C.E.O. needs to be fired! Our President has moved like lightening on very important economic issues to rescue Americans. The puzzle pieces of his moves are coming together. He functions as few could do. He thinks and acts brilliantly. I have confidence that he will do what must be done about this issue. He is truly the people's president. Let's keep our trust up there! He deserves it!!

    March 17, 2009 at 10:34 pm |
  30. Zach Wesley


    March 17, 2009 at 10:34 pm |
  31. Brian Pike

    I am going to say this has an outsider looking in.....If anyone who has a company and an employee can get government to give that company 120 billion dollars would you give that employee a bonus of 150 million dollars.....Little over 1 %.....I beleave it is not AGI or the employees who made the big mistake.....It is Government....I do not agree with the bonus but one has to look at it in an objective way....Business is in business to make money anyway it can inside the law....law makers are to make laws to govern how business do business......So one can only blame the law makers......also how many times have the tax payers monies been given to big business and the little guy having to pay.....Maybe now it is in the open govenment may pull the rag out of its ass and sort it out....Now I would also suggest that government should stop reacting and become proactive to prevent it from happing again.....Stop trying to treat the symptons and began to treat the problem......Not sure if that is posible when the law makers benefit from donations from compaines such as AGI....I seen today a pole that suggested that 96% disagreed with the bonuses ...I am one of the 96% but then how many of this 96% would take the bonus and run......I would think that most would....I have to say I would .......That is what drives a free enterprise system....It could be worst ......we could be living in china or russia....ok my 5 cents.....take care every and please take no ofence to what I said...it is ment to open your eyes to see beond the anger many are feeling at this time in history....

    March 17, 2009 at 10:33 pm |
  32. CM51

    Outrageous! Egregious! Shameful.

    March 17, 2009 at 10:32 pm |
  33. Ezell Branch Jr

    If the individuals who took bonus money from any bailout by the taxpayers, since I own 80% of the business, there is one solution to retrieving the bailout bonuses. Give them the oppertunity to give it back or receive a "pink slip."

    March 17, 2009 at 10:31 pm |
  34. Diane

    Retention Payments?
    Never mind that 11 of them are already gone...??!!

    What happens if they leave? Where will they go? Lehman Brothers?

    NOBODY else can do their job?
    Well, then, let them go under. We cannot have a company with positions that NOBODY ELSE can do!
    Everyone is replacable!

    AIG is too big to let go under? Let's do it and see if ALLSTATE, STATE FARM, Farmers Branch, or any other ins co can take over and do the job. If not, let it fall!

    BTW, Just FYI... I can screw the taxpayer for HALF of the money the Govt is charging.. in case you are interested in saving money!

    March 17, 2009 at 10:31 pm |
  35. Gail

    AIG is a big joke... They have no business operating as a company.
    I wish another trustworthy company would take over. Enough is enough. Today I closed my account with them; more people need to do the same. Maybe I will have better luck with another financial institution?

    March 17, 2009 at 10:29 pm |
  36. Dave

    Yes like everyone else im very MAD. This aig business. We have to go back to the old west policies. Hang em high!!!! So sick of these companies taking our money. Oh yes we get this big break in our paychecks here in a bout 2 months. What im going to do with that first 13 dollar one is get a money order and send it to President Obama and tell him to give it to the ceos etc as they need it more than us hard working people that cant make it from check to check. Yes im very MAD. And to know washington knew all about these bonuses a couple weeks or so ago already, and now they had to act like they will do something about it. LET THESE BANKS ETC GO UNDER. The heck with them, getting tired of hearing of their so called problems. Here in my town 75 lost jobs again today while we keep feeding the rich companies. Always told people this was wrong to bail out these people. Where did it get us? Still in a mess. Senator John Thune said a month ago that the money should have been given to the citizens that way ti would have been spent wisely and would have stimulated the economy better. ALL ABOUT GREED. History repeats itself. Rome fell and so will we because of all this. AIG and washington should be held accountable. Send them all to prison- And not the fancy ones either the ones the poor are put in. We are struggling and they get by with fraud. Im surprised there wont be an uprising here before its all over with? Yup they are the economic terrorist. The terrorist are probably laughing at us. We will topple ourselves and then they will walk in and take over peacefully because of our greed.

    March 17, 2009 at 10:29 pm |
  37. PeterC

    They say a hungry alligator will leave you alone as long as you keep feeding it. The problem is it gets bigger and hungrier and keeps coming back for more.

    As long as you feed (read "bail out") failed companies they wil continue to be failed companies and keep asking for more. There is enough evidence all over the world of failure being sustained by government hand outs. Bail outs do not fix the problem, but merely expand and sustain the agony.

    Let them fail to make room for competent competitors.


    Ottawa, Canada.

    March 17, 2009 at 10:29 pm |
  38. Karen Fowler

    It is no surprise that this would happen. A majority of americans did not want the Tarp passed but Congress went ahead and passed it, anyway. They assured us ( Obama included ) that Golden Parachutes would be stopped and that there would be transoparency.
    Bush signed the bill , but the democrats pushed it through.

    When will we wake up? Did your congressman vote for the bill? Then he should be held accountable. The only way to get rid of dishonesty is to get rid of the dishonest reps in congress. Vote third party. the dems and republicans are all the same. Power breeds contempt and greed.

    March 17, 2009 at 10:29 pm |
  39. Randy

    Foamex is another good example of how the heart and sole of a company ends up taking the blunt of their corporate officers lining their pockets with cash that is allowed under the chapter 11 laws. The same people that failed to steer Foamex back into prosperity are receiving bonuses to, once again steer us out of bankruptcy. It really pays to be the top 14 !

    March 17, 2009 at 10:28 pm |
  40. Johnette

    Dear Mr. Cooper,

    I am a hard-working American and am fed up with supporting AIG!! I realize how important this company is to many Americans, including my own mother–she has an insurance policy with them. My hopes are that the money is there one day to pay since she has been paying for MANY years. But enough is enough! No more bail-out money. If I go to the bank and get a loan, I can't go back and get a new one until that debt has been paid in FULL. As far as the executives who took the $1 million bonuses and then left AIG, I consider them thieves. These bonuses were retention bonuses. I think the government needs to press charges, or maybe we the citizens can, since it is our money!

    March 17, 2009 at 10:28 pm |
  41. judy

    It is time to close the doors of AIG. The corruption, greed and insensitivity of corporations all over this country have been out of control at least since 2001 when the same corrupt, greedy,insensitive people took control of the White House. I am sick of idiots who bring up Obama and anyone in his admnistration regarding AIG – an administration that is less than two months into its tenure, and, who am sure have been sickened by all the "side letters" and "hidden agendas" they find every day. This absolute mess lies at the doorstep of an administration who was and is one of the "boys" – who lived and lives by the motto "me, me, me" and to hell with the "little people".

    March 17, 2009 at 10:27 pm |
  42. Cathy Gingrich

    AIG...does it spell MONOPOLY? Don't we have a watchdog agency who protects the American public against the greed of any one company? Why was an insurance company allowed to get so big, so important, that they can hold us, the tax payers, hostage? Aren't they regulated...or is this an prime example of the deregulation that has been the GOP's standard since President Ronald Trickle-down? Please ask John Stewart if I can borrow his pitch fork...I can't afford to buy one.

    March 17, 2009 at 10:27 pm |
  43. Rob Z. Indiana

    It seems to me we are distracted by the bonus question. The larger outrage is the fact that AIG is sending $Billions of tax payer bail-out funds out the back door to Wall Street banks and "Foreign Investment Banks and Large Foreign Investors" who want to be paid off for100% of their investment. Can someone post the list of banks, businesses and foreign entities that were paid off by AIG, and how much they were paid? It seems like AIG has become a money laundering operation too get our bail-out funds out to "others" who don't want to be seen taking money in the light of day. This whole thing smells fishy to me.

    March 17, 2009 at 10:27 pm |
  44. Linda Shirley

    I can not believe the government and the President let this big company have millions of tax papers money and did not check to see how the money was used. Why give this company any money when all of us know it will go under anyway because they do not intend to use this money wisely because if they had they would not be in trouble to start with. If they will not use there money wisely what makes you think they will use ours wisely.

    March 17, 2009 at 10:26 pm |
  45. trent1a1

    I can't help but thinking that AIG assured the bonuses would be given by writing in specific contractual agreements that would assure that the bonuses could not be rescinded prior to this whole fiasco. It is possible that upper level management knew that bad times were coming and took measures to protect themselves? So many of us knew that bad times were coming and had little knowledge about the extent of the impending disaster. Big business had far more access to information. We should find out when the contracts were written and who wrote them and question them about the exact reason why bonuses would still be given despite the probelms that existed. If they wrote the measures to protect themselves, everyone who was involved should be punished.

    March 17, 2009 at 10:26 pm |
  46. George NM

    I am so disappointed in President Obama. His team looks confused an ill-focused. He cannot be using old hands, who have been part of the financial problem, to solve this crisis. His treasury Secretary should go. He is useless!

    My of my friends are beginning to regret voting for Obama. He needs to salvage this issue not before he is consigned to a four-year, failed presidency.

    So sad to witness such inaction and indecisiveness. So sad to feel I waited my vote for someone so ineffectual!

    (In Philadelphia)

    March 17, 2009 at 10:26 pm |
  47. Carrie

    Let AIG FOLD!!! It's time for 'tough love' and to cut them off. NO MORE MONEY – NO MORE HANDOUTS. PERIOD. This company is going down anyway, why try to save the Titanic when there's OBVIOUSLY no way to save this giant? Honestly, AIG should give back ALL the bailout money they were given b/c since they can afford to give out bonuses, especially when they can afford to hand out $6.4 million to one person ALONE, they do not need help. COME ON ALREADY! Contracts can be broken – everybody knows this! This just disgusts me to NO END!! How stupid does AIG think Americans are? I back Grassley's comment all the way – and I'm from Iowa too. People from the Heartland know what it's like to work hard all their lives and receive nothing in return.... well, it's time these "WHITE COLLARED" workers get a taste of what it feels like. And personally, I could give a rats ass if they end up on the streets pushing a broom – and I'd be more than happy to see it, but I wouldn't even bother to hand those snakes the broom! What really makes my stomach turn is that this government / country of ours saw this WHOLE DISASTER happening 6 yrs. ago, Congress and NO ONE else tried to stop it (thanks 'W' but you could have if you really wanted – you made the Iraq. Oh, but we kept on giving to the Iraq War that cost us almost a trillion dollars! Yeah, I see where our governments priorities lie... it's not 'We The People', it's "WHO'S THE GOVERNMENT" and "the HELL WITH THE REST OF YOU". If the government wants to turn this economy disaster around, they better cut taxes across the board for all Americans and Corporations and bring the jobs BACK to the United States and NO MORE WARS. Otherwise, I see no light at the end of the tunnel, it's all over and America's strife has only begun. As I've been saying all year – it's the GREEDY GETTING GREEDIER that put us in this great depression that has just begun.

    March 17, 2009 at 10:25 pm |
  48. J Williams

    The $173m is insignificant when compared to the $100B already given to AIG. It would appear that AIG set up a special unit in UK to create/trade in the Credit Default Swaps (CDS) that ultimately destroyed our economic system. Why can’t the media concentrate on the real story instead of being suckered in by the Whitehouse cover-up of the real issue?

    March 17, 2009 at 10:24 pm |
  49. Driller1

    So.....AIG is considered to big to fail? R U kidding me ...AIG is not the only insurance company in the world. They are playing us for a bunch of Tards! My sugestion, if you are involved with AIG drop them like a bad habit and get a different Ins. group....DUH! Then sell everything they own and get our friggen' money back!!!

    March 17, 2009 at 10:24 pm |
  50. Suzan

    Can AC360 confirm or expel the following rumor?

    "AIG controls the insurance and retirement plans for senators and congressional representatives."

    If this rumor is factual and true, AIG certainly will not be allowed to fail, even though so many other institutions have been allowed to. No politician will allow his/her gravy train to be taken away.

    March 17, 2009 at 10:24 pm |
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