Inhofe: Blame Washington For AIG Bonuses

 

 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) today went to the Senate Floor to express his deep anger over the AIG bonuses being given out after the company received $180 billion in taxpayer dollars in the bailouts and place the blame where it belongs: on the 74 Senators who voted in favor of passing the $700 billion bailout last October. The following are excerpts of his speech:

 

“Should we be mad at the executives who are involved in this and who ran a once-great company into the ground? Yes. But that’s not where the blame game ends. That’s not where the buck stops,” Senator Inhofe said.  “I know that I will upset some of my colleagues when I remind them, and the American people, that much of the blame should be directed right here, to the members of this body, the US Senate, to the other side of the Capitol in the US House for voting for the original $700 billion bailout.  Blame lies as well on the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue, to President Obama.

 

“Let there be no mistake: The policies which the members of the House, the Senate, and the current Administration ratified and voted for have brought us to this point.  And let’s learn the lesson of this most recent abuse of taxpayer dollars and the public trust: we need a change of course in our approach to the financial crisis.

 

“I don’t know how someone at AIG giving out or receiving a bonus right now can look themselves in the mirror, but I and my colleagues in Congress can look you in the eye right now and say, if we don’t see action on this and action on it soon from the Administration, you can be sure that we will do all we can to right this wrong and get these bonuses back.  But above all, we need the people to demand a change in course when it comes to the financial rescue approach we've been taking.”

 

Sen. Inhofe’s full remarks as prepared for delivery:

 

Mr. President, I join the rest of my colleagues who have been outraged to learn about the excessive bonuses for AIG executives while the company consumes $180 billion of taxpayer dollars at the federal trough.

 

 

Should we be mad at the executives who are involved in this and who ran a once-great company into the ground? Yes. But that’s not where the blame game ends. That’s not where the buck stops. I know that I will upset some of my colleagues when I remind them, and the American people, that much of the blame should be directed right here, to the members of this body, the US Senate, to the other side of the Capitol in the US House for voting for the original $700 billion bailout.  Blame lies as well on the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue, to President Obama.

 

 

Let’s be clear on where the outrage should be targeted – it should be targeted at the 74 Senators, including then-Senator Obama, who voted in favor of handing over an unprecedented amount of money and power to an unelected bureaucrat last October. The AIG situation is clear evidence of what happens when you shovel money out the door with no strings attached and no transparency.

 

 

So 75% of the Senators in this chamber said to both Secretary Treasurers Hank Paulson and Tim Geithner, who was in on it back then too, when voting in favor of the massive bailout to, “take the $700 billion and do anything you want with it.” So how can those who voted for the $700 billion bailout explain that now?

 

Let there be no mistake: The policies which the members of the House, the Senate, and the current Administration ratified and voted for have brought us to this point.  And let’s learn the lesson of this most recent abuse of taxpayer dollars and the public trust: we need a change of course in our approach to the financial crisis.

 

When it comes to AIG, outrage doesn’t even come close. I’ve said for a very long time, from the outset in fact, that the federal government needs an exit strategy for its entanglement into the financial system. The revelations that AIG is trying to give hundreds of millions in bonuses at the same time it’s the recipient of the biggest government bailout in US history shows why.

 

How can you give out bonuses when the US taxpayer has to rescues you from sudden failure? What are these bonuses for exactly? I understand bonuses to be a reward for a job well done. It’s pretty clear that when you get bailed out by taxpayers, you’re not doing a good job. What could possibly justify these bonuses?

 

I normally would not support having the government try and micromanage pay packages in any industry. But these are not normal times. AIG has received almost $180 billion--$180 billion—in US taxpayer bailouts. The US government owns 80% of the company. How the executives as AIG do not get the fact that these are not normal times is absolutely beyond me.

 

 

I’ve been saying for a long time that we need a change in course in our approach to the financial bailouts. President Obama’s Treasury Secretary came out over a month ago, February 11th, and said he had a plan for a change in course, but he didn’t actually have a plan. We haven’t heard from him since. Where is Tim Geithner? Where is the leadership on this? Where is the change in course? Where is the accountability?

 

 

I don’t know how someone at AIG giving out or receiving a bonus right now can look themselves in the mirror, but I and my colleagues in Congress can look you in the eye right now and say, if we don’t see action on this and action on it soon from the Administration, you can be sure that we will do all we can to right this wrong and get these bonuses back.  But above all, we need the people to demand a change in course when it comes to the financial rescue approach we've been taking.

 

 

Finally, let me say again, let’s be clear on where the outrage should be targeted – it should be targeted right here in the chamber – the 75% in here who voted in favor of handing over an unprecedented amount of money and power to an unelected bureaucrat last October.

 

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