Tuesday, March 24, 2009

AIG Bonus Scandal

Okay, I haven't been political yet, but here goes...

I've been thinking about the whole AIG bonus thing. Correct me if I'm wrong, but here's the way it looks to me. Congress rushed through this legislation. It's fairly complicated, and they were in a hurry to get this thing done. It seems like you can pick two of: complicated, fast, and right. They picked all three, and they screwed it up. The issue of bonuses was in the legislation in black and white, and they missed it because they voted on something without taking enough time to read it. To me, it really seems that simple.

Now as far as AIG's role, maybe the folks deserved the bonuses, maybe not. I've heard the argument that things would have been a lot worse without the work of the executives that got the bonuses. That may or may not be true. It's a real possibility, but without knowing the inside info, I can't say. But it seems clear that AIG was contractually obligated to pay those bonuses, with Congress' backing per the legislation. If they didn't pay the bonuses, they could have been sued, and lost the bonus money plus punitive damages and court costs. And they wouldn't have had a leg to stand on in court, so they probably would have lost.

AIG was between a rock and a hard place. Congress put the rock there, and now they're whining about it. Congress should man up (if there are any there) and say "We screwed up. We know what we did wrong this time, and we won't make that mistake next time." Since they're not owning the problem, they'll probably screw it up next time, too.

Don't misunderstand me - I am not defending AIG. But Congress is pretty quick to shift the blame here, because they know if we stop and think about it, we'll realize what idiots we've elected.

Now, as complicated as the bailout is, it pales in comparison to what's coming down the pike with health care. If they can't even get bailouts right, can they be trusted to get health care right? At this point, I don't think they collectively have the skills to lance a blister, much less to do their jobs well.

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