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March 23rd, 2009
12:36 PM ET

Lifestyles of the Rich and Shameless

Program Note: Watch Randi Kaye’s full report tonight on AC360 at 10 p.m. ET.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/03/23/art.lifestyles.rich.famous.jpg]

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/03/23/art.aig.media.mongrel.jpg caption="The pack of media at the home of AIG executive Douglas Poling as the group tries to deliver the letter."]

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/03/23/art.aig.tour.media.mob.jpg caption="Outside of Poling's house."]

Randi Kaye | Bio
AC360° Correspondent

This was not your everyday guided bus tour. On board with me were a few dozen people who were either struggling financially or had lost their jobs or their homes. This tour took us through affluent areas of Connecticut so those less fortunate could see how some of the executives from AIG are living.

The tour was organized by the group, Connecticut Working Families, and dubbed the “Lifestyles of the Rich and Infamous” bus tour. It took us past two of the executives homes who had received big bonus checks from AIG even after the government had bailed out the company with about $170 billion in taxpayer dollars.

FULL POST

March 23rd, 2009
08:10 AM ET

AIG mess an American tradition

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Julian E. Zelizer
Special to CNN

In the explosion of outrage over the AIG executive bonus scandal, each party has hurled charges at the other. Both parties are blaming each other for rejecting measures that would have limited executive bonuses.

A few Republicans have called for the resignation of Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner - with efforts to paint him as the Michael Brown of this administration - and President Obama is promising that this week he will outline more stringent requirements for the financial world.

These partisan accusations miss a bigger factor behind last's week's revelations - America's middle-way in dealing with business-government relations. In many ways, the bonus scandal was utterly predictable and would likely have happened regardless of which party was in power. And if history is a guide, the populist outrage over the bonuses may not fundamentally change the federal government's relationship to private business.

Keep Reading...


Filed under: AIG • Bailout Turmoil • Economy • Finance • Julian E. Zelizer
March 22nd, 2009
07:00 AM ET

Dear President Obama #62: Far from the just plain mad crowd

Reporter's Note: The President of the United States wants suggestions on how to run the nation. I, a citizen of the United States, write a letter every day in hopes of being helpful. You can’t say I’m not trying.

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Tom Foreman | Bio
AC360° Correspondent

Dear Mr. President,

Here’s something I don’t get. Politicians are always saying that Americans should pull together. We should be more bipartisan. We should unite to promote understanding, acceptance, and implementation of the President’s plans.

Mind you, there is a caveat here: I’m talking about the party in charge at any given moment. They are the ones who say this, and of course they would. If everyone gets behind the ruling party’s leaders, it’s easier to lead. The party out of power? You don’t often hear them rattling on that way.

But back to my point. We’re always told to join forces, all strive toward the same goals; but as soon we do, if it makes Washington nervous, we’re accused of being a senseless mob. People from the Lexus and loafer set start lobbing around the word “populism” as if it’s something they found molding at the bottom of the pool.

FULL POST

March 20th, 2009
03:55 PM ET

Boards are real culprits in AIG mess

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Nell Minow
Special to CNN

The stories about the outrageous $160 million bonus payments at AIG have all omitted the most important names.

They are the members of AIG's Board of Directors Compensation Committee.

These people should have been on the hot seat before the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Capital Markets, Insurance, and Government Sponsored Enterprises, alongside CEO Ed Liddy. Although there is a lot of blame to go around, ultimately the buck stops - or, I should say, the bucks should have stopped - with them.

Read more...


Filed under: 360° Radar • AIG • Bailout Turmoil
March 20th, 2009
03:01 PM ET

AIG and 'political risk'

Ian Bremmer and Sean West
The Wall Street Journal

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After quietly tolerating $170 billion in bailout money for AIG, why have the public, Congress and the administration suddenly blown up about a tiny fraction of that amount that is being paid out in retention payments and bonuses? After all, the AIG bailout channels U.S. taxpayer dollars to foreign banks and even potentially covers hedge-fund profits.

The reason is one of political expediency: The bonuses represent greed in the face of dire circumstances, which resonates with Joe the TARP-funder. The public now has an Enron-like target on which to unload its collective frustration about the financial meltdown. While public outrage is understandable, pandering to it jeopardizes the administration's credentials in a sloppy attempt to score populist points. This raises the political risk for all investors in the U.S. (both domestic and foreign) significantly.

The financial-sector rescue necessitates unpopular actions that will only be politically worth it if the administration actually solves the crisis. Until recently, the Obama administration had taken pragmatic if slow actions that it deemed necessary to fend off disaster, as opposed to pursuing an ideological agenda in how it implements the bailout.

Read more...


Filed under: AIG • Bailout Turmoil • Economy • Raw Politics
March 20th, 2009
01:35 PM ET

Government by lynch mob

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David Gergen | Bio
AC360° Contributor
CNN Senior Political Analyst

For the millions of us who do not work in the financial industry, “outrage” is almost too weak a word to describe our feelings toward those at AIG who ran the company into the ground and then took bonuses and are now living off our tax dollars. Yet, there has to be a better way to fix this than the direction Washington is now headed.

There is almost a sense of mob rule in the Capital. In a classic case of CYA, the same politicians who helped get us into this mess with AIG are now trying to outdo each other in punishing the miscreants of Wall Street. Members of Congress have been the most extreme, but even President Obama is now supporting the House bill that would impose a 90 percent tax on employees who earn more than $250,000 at companies that have received at least $5 billion from the government’s finance rescue program.

FULL POST


Filed under: 360° Radar • AIG • David Gergen • Raw Politics
March 20th, 2009
12:52 PM ET

Financial Dispatch: Bonus backlash & Madoff stays locked up

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/03/19/aig.spitzer/art.spitzer.cnn.jpg caption="Ex-New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer says focusing on those AIG bonuses misses the bigger financial picture."]

Andrew Torgan
CNN Financial News Producer

The House passed legislation Thursday to try to recoup bonuses paid to Wall Street executives with taxpayer money.

The measure passed, 328-93; with most Democrats supporting it while Republicans were sharply divided. The measure would tax individuals on any bonuses received in 2009 from companies getting $5 billion or more in money from the Troubled Asset Relief Program.

Bonuses for people with incomes over $250,000 would be taxed at a 90% rate.

FULL POST


Filed under: AIG • Andrew Torgan • Economy • Finance • Gas Prices • Oil • Unemployment • Wall St.
March 20th, 2009
11:51 AM ET

Who wrote the AIG bonus loophole? An easy question that Washington can't seem to answer.

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Drew Griffin
CNN Special Investigations Unit

OK – In this new age of "transparency" I want to know who in Congress, White House or the Treasury Department wrote this!

(iii) The prohibition required under clause (i) shall not be construed to prohibit any bonus payment required to be paid pursuant to a written employment contract executed on or before February 11, 2009, as such valid employment contracts are determined by the Secretary or the designee of the Secretary.

This is the loophole written into the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (the stimulus whopper) that "congressionally blesses" the very AIG bonuses congress itself is now blasting.

FULL POST


Filed under: AIG • Drew Griffin • Keeping Them Honest
March 20th, 2009
08:11 AM ET

AIG bonus controversy

Anderson Cooper talks with a panel about who is to blame for the AIG bonus controversy.


Filed under: AIG • Anderson Cooper • Bailout Turmoil • Joe Johns
March 19th, 2009
08:20 PM ET

Geithner informed about bonuses

Timothy Geithner explains when he knew about the bonuses paid to AIG executives. To see more of Ali Velshi's interview tune in to AC360° at 10pm ET tonight.


Filed under: AIG • Ali Velshi • Economy • Raw Politics • T1
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