Mar 24, 2009

America fronts bill for AIG bonuses

by Katy Palmer

Talk about a struggling economy.

In the past six months, national insurance giant AIG (American International Group) made a measly $5 million profit. AIG’s financial fine print explains just how this happened. After receiving $180 billion in bailout funds, the Associated Press reported that AIG gave $165 million of that money back to employees as a bonus.

Last month, Congress had the opportunity to prevent this when it circulated a stimulus bill against companies giving out mega-bonuses. Though Congress passed the bill, last-minute changes left a loophole for AIG to resume its actions. Senator Christopher Dodd, chairperson of the Senate Banking Committee, revealed he helped alter the bill after feeling pressured by the Treasury Department.

After the media revealed AIG’s latest mind-boggling decision, President Barack Obama publicly apologized for the political and financial mishaps.

“I will take responsibility …we didn’t draft these contracts … it’s my job to fix these messes even if I don’t make them,” Obama said, according to CNN.

Now, that is scary. The point of checks and balances was supposed to prevent one part of the political system from controlling another. Understandably, people try to sway others into voting one way or another. But it is a cause for concern when members of Congress are pressuring others with how to distribute big amounts of money. This is not a student government debate on how to spend money on its senior gift — it is a couple powerful men playing with our tax dollars.
And what makes it worse, America’s principal apparently did not oversee the meeting.

“In Obama’s case, ‘blame me’ is political code for ‘move on,’” CNN’s Senior Political Correspondent Candy Crowley commented.
Regardless of who is truly to blame, the sequence of events is alarming. Why would the Treasury Department so quickly pressure Dodd? And where was Obama during all of this?
Politicians are dangerous, dirty and deceptive. The economy has suffered from an incurable disease over the past few years and the economic sickness is spreading too fast to tame. Why would Congress fuel this fire by manipulating a bill that could turn the economy around? Also, it is hard to believe Obama had no inclination of what happened underneath him.

“There’s either competence or incompetence going on here, and it looks like a lot of incompetence,” Sen. Richard Shelby said, according to Fox News. “I think this is the tip of the iceberg.

Consider the words of this classic sing-along: “I’m Just a Bill” by School House Rock, “I’m only a bill, and if they vote me on Capitol Hill, well, then I’m off to the White House, where I’ll wait in line, for the President to sign.”

Even a talking sheet of loose-leaf notebook paper knows the importance of checks and balances. I certainly hope our government does too.

Contact Katy Palmer at
kapalmer@liberty.edu. 


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