I’m sorry, but I can’t come up with any other word than this. By now you’ve all heard the story that it was Senator Chris Dodd who is responsible for AIG, et al, getting their bonuses. Well, it’s a lie. And the lie comes straight from the White House.
That is simply not what happened. What actually happened is the opposite. It was Dodd who did everything possible — including writing and advocating for an amendment — which would have applied the limitations on executive compensation to all bailout-receiving firms, including AIG, and applied it to all future bonus payments without regard to when those payments were promised. But it was Tim Geithner and Larry Summers who openly criticized Dodd’s proposal at the time and insisted that those limitations should apply only to future compensation contracts, not ones that already existed. The exemption for already existing compensation agreements — the exact provision that is now protecting the AIG bonus payments — was inserted at the White House’s insistence and over Dodd’s objections. But now that a political scandal has erupted over these payments, the White House is trying to deflect blame from itself and heap it all on Chris Dodd by claiming that it was Dodd who was responsible for that exemption.
Jane’s post documents this sequence of events without any possibility for doubt. The debate that took place over limits on executive compensation for bailout-receiving companies only occurred six weeks ago, and it is all documented in the public press. Dodd was the one fighting against the White House in order to apply the prohibition to all bonus payments, i.e., to make the compensation limits retroactive as well as prospective. As but one crystal-clear example that proves this, here is a February 14 article from the Wall St. Journal on the debate over executive compensation limits:
The most stringent pay restriction bars any company receiving funds from paying top earners bonuses equal to more than one-third of their total annual compensation. That could severely crimp pay packages at big banks, where top officials commonly get relatively modest salaries but often huge bonuses.
As word spread Friday about the new and retroactive limit — inserted by Democratic Sen. Christopher Dodd of Connecticut — so did consternation on Wall Street and in the Obama administration, which opposed it.
Can that be any clearer? It was Obama officials, not Dodd, who demanded that already-vested bonus payments be exempted. And it was Dodd, not Obama officials, who wanted the prohibition applied to all compensation agreements, past and future. The provision which shielded already-promised bonus payments from the executive compensation limits ended up being inserted at the insistence of Geithner.
It really shouldn’t surprise me. Throwing supporters, family members, and key constituents under the bus in order to maintain the Obama Glow was standard operating procedure during the campaign. Why stop now?
How does it feel under the bus Chris? I wonder if you’re rethinking your endorsement now?