Blame game in full swing on Capitol Hill

March 19, 2009 7:49:58 PM PDT
The blame game is going full tilt on Capitol Hill as the furor intensifies over the millions in bonuses paid to AIG executives. On Thursday, there was more talk about trying to get that money back.

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All week there has been talk about a tax on those million dollar bonuses at AIG. Finally on Thursday, the House passed a bill that would take back 90-percent. It has yet to be voted on in the Senate, but in both houses, it is dominating the rhetoric.

All over Capitol Hill, lawmakers engaged in a finger pointing fury over the AIG bonuses. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D) disputed reports that the provision allowing the bonuses was inserted into the stimulus bill during conference negotiations.

"This was never brought to conference, this was never brought to conference," said Speaker Pelosi.
"But it came out of the conference bill," said a reporter.
"But it was never brought to conference," said Speaker Pelosi.

On the House floor Republicans had a field day.

"Who was in the room? Who took out the Wyden Snowe Amendment that prohibited this executive compensation and inserted section 111, sub paragraph three, little i? Anybody? Who did it?" asked Representative Steve LaTourette (R) of Ohio.

This week Senator Chris Dodd (D) of Connecticut has admitted he authored that section, but he says he did it at the behest of the Treasury Department. He won't say who, but suspicion is falling on Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.

"Geithner was hired because he said Wall Street is comfortable with him. Tell you what I'd like, a secretary of the treasury that Wall Street doesn't like," said Representative Peter DeFazio (D) of Oregon.

When the shouting was done, House Republicans and Democrats voted overwhelmingly to impose a 90-percent tax on bonuses over $250,000 at corporations getting more than $5 billion in federal money.

Regardless, the pressure on Treasury Secretary Geithner is increasing. Southern California Representative Darrell Issa (R) of Vista, the ranking Republican on the House Oversight Committee, issued a statement saying: "Secretary Geithner either didn't know about the bonuses and was grossly negligent, or he did know and failed to bring this to the President's attention." Issa added Geithner should resign.

"The lack of confidence in Geithner both in his person and in his approach, is I think a huge problem for this administration," said ABC7 Political Analyst Professor Bruce Cain Ph.D.

Professor Cain says in Washington he's hearing both Republicans and Democrats saying Geithner should go. However, the president is standing by his treasury secretary and Professor Cain says for now that's the smart move.

"I don't think getting rid of Geithner and then kicking the problem down the road is the way to proceed. That will just feed the public perception of the administration not being tough enough and being on top of this problem," says Professor Cain.

Professor Cain says the president needs to personally take charge of the banking crisis and executive excesses. Also, on Thursday, Bloomberg reported that Citigroup plans to spend $10 million to remodel offices for the CEO and his top lieutenants.

Citigroup accepted $45 billion in cash from the government and they had to cancel a brand new $50 million corporate jet after the president scolded them.

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