March 19th, 2009
10:00 AM ET

How Obama can repair AIG damage

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Drew Westen
Special to CNN

In getting the nation's economy back on its feet and pursuing an agenda aimed at keeping it there for the next 40 years, the White House has to do two things at once: implement effective policies and keep the public behind the president long enough to keep implementing them until they work.

As the president learned in the stimulus debate, even the best policies don't sell themselves, especially when the other side is aggressively attacking them. President Obama's inspiration, Abraham Lincoln, noted that without public opinion behind you, good governance is impossible.

In this sense, the AIG debacle, in which the government has handed nearly $200 billion of taxpayers' money to one of the corporate Leviathans whose misadventures have cost many taxpayers their jobs, homes and savings, is both instructive and destructive.

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Filed under: AIG • Bailout Turmoil • President Barack Obama
soundoff (11 Responses)
  1. xtina, chicago IL

    "Clara" has a great point towards the end; Obama+ Co. make another mistake in making a law for just one incident. It's dangerous and wrong to make a law for one person or one situation. It sets a precedent that could set the stage for other such specific laws. What happened to liberty?

    March 19, 2009 at 6:54 pm |
  2. karen

    the working people work hard for their money and get nothing in return

    March 19, 2009 at 2:50 pm |
  3. karen

    i just read that some firms that have bailout money owe back income taxes if we the people owed back taxes uncle sam would get the money or we would be in jail whats up with this scr-w the working people we need a robin hood get from the rich and give to the poor

    March 19, 2009 at 2:43 pm |
  4. Clara

    Have him {Obama}, his staff, and Congress repay the bonus millions to the taxpayers. They are the ones that made the bonuses legal by passing their bill that had the grandfather clause in it.
    Congress did this then did not have enough backbone to admit it. Then they throw all the blame on AIG and their employees. They {Congress} incited the public against AIG so bad they received death threats. What wonderful leaders we have in this country.
    Now they propose specialized excessive taxes to get back what they gave away. Unconstitutional!!!!!!!
    Please keep in mind: what they get away with against these people they will be able to carry out against any or all of us!!!!
    This is the first time ever I have felt so ashamed of my country.

    March 19, 2009 at 2:38 pm |
  5. Lisa in CA

    The problem is that Obama signed on to the bailout. He now needs to explain his error in judgment. He also needs to stop trying to stop the bleeding. Let it bleed - sometimes that is best - while getting cohesive plans into place that have subsequent plans if A doesn't work and B doesn't work. Finally, he needs to stop using the same philosophies of the past that haven't worked - top down does not work, at least by itself. You need to add bottom up in there as well. I'm paying for this. And in theory it is supposed to come back to me - but at what cost? And will it be too late to save me?

    And if the people he has appointed are not doing the job - get rid of them. It's like giving a retention bonus to the people who drove your company into failure. Do you really want to keep them around to do more damage?

    It is seriously time to clean house. I have no doubt that there is a larger applicant pool of qualified individuals. One does not need to limit themselves to only those candidates in Washington DC. The search needs to be expanded.

    Obama ran on a platform of change. I'm still waiting to see that change take place.

    March 19, 2009 at 2:37 pm |
  6. Larry

    Obama's martyr complex 'blame me, not the people I hired' is getting pretty old.

    March 19, 2009 at 1:55 pm |
  7. Larry

    Get rid of everbody in Congress who signed that bill with the Dodd get out of A.I.G. – free clause!!

    March 19, 2009 at 1:39 pm |
  8. John Perez

    President Obama should also focus on the executive pay of CEOs from investment firms. I understand that CEOs and executive for companies like Bank of NY/Mellon received as much as 5 million dollars weeks ago in bonus payout. How???

    March 19, 2009 at 1:37 pm |
  9. Mary Anne Sullivan

    Please publish the names of the AIG executives and former executives who gave the money back.........this will inspire others to listen to do the right thing and do the same

    March 19, 2009 at 1:28 pm |
  10. Gary

    I am a person that is a working very hurt and in major pain everyday
    and night due to a accident with 13,000 volts of electic that AIG is the compensation company that handles Boston Ma. They have tried everything in the world to take me off of compensation until i was forced in to getting a lawyer to handle this. I took a lower rate of pay
    with the understanding they were going to make up the difference
    in loss of pay. Well its been a year since i went to work and still they say they are going to make up the difference, Well i am losing everything i have. Since my accident i have sold my house 4 motorcycles and i have no more work that i can do. Life as i knew it will never be the same again till the day i die and they have the nerve
    to give all this money to people that have enough money to take care of their grandkids kids, it just doesnt make any sence to me how they can justify this.

    March 19, 2009 at 1:25 pm |
  11. Michael "C" Lorton, VA

    You can't repair the damage--it has been already done--you can heal the wound--but the scar will remain--and when the bill comes due for the taxpayers--the wounds will only be re-opened-to create more damage.

    March 19, 2009 at 12:26 pm |