Taking Action on AIG Executive Bonuses on MSNBC

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... and for those who don't, the truth is, as one taxpayer, i don't want them working for me. i just as soon you get rid of them. >> all you have to do is ask americans if you're willing to apply for a job at aig but you're not going to get a bonus, do you know how long the line would be? as long as your arm. what do you think leadership thinks of all of this? joining me now is steny hoyer. >> i'm not watching, but the last person said give it back. i can't believe these guys or gals who got these bonuses from aig, a failed company that had been very successful but was run into the ground by a lot of people would take these bonuses given the circumstances that exist. and they ought to realize the american public are rightfully outraged, congress is outraged. we're going to take action to that this is turned around. but in the best interest of the country and very frankly, the best interest of aig and every one of these people is to give it back. say look, under the circumstance, we're in trouble. you helped us. we're not going to take money that you helped us with to get fat bonuses. it's amazing they aren't doing that and aren't doing it promptly. >> congressman steny hoyer with us on ""1600 pennsylvania"" tonight. congressman, isn't there a legal question as to what congress can actually do about forcing these employees to give this money back to the treasury? and how much are you going to be pushing this? >> i think there is a legal question. we need to review that legal question. we're very supportive of any action taken by the administration to get this money back, to reverse this policy. we're also going to pass legislation tomorrow on suspension, which i think will be supported overwhelmingly, which will have a severe tax consequence on these bonuses. but we certainly need to look at the legal ramifications here. but the real ramifications are the outrage that the american people rightfully feel that they stepped up to the plate, they're trying to save a company that if it goes down will have very, very severe, adverse impact on the economy as a whole and on americans as a whole as it already has. so that's why we say the first option here is give this money back. >> it's an issue of process, it's an issue of legality, but it is also a disconnect it seems from aig to connect with where this country stands on this issue. and it makes it a bigger problem, i think, for the president. how do you think the president handled this today? >> well, i think the president obviously says pretty forcefully, or i didn't see his conference today, but he says pretty forcefully that this was wrong, that the people who did it were wrong in doing so, and that he's going to take every action he can to reverse this decision. i think that was right. now, i didn't see his comments today, ed, so i can't comment specifically on that. >> well, he took responsibility for it. he says the buck stops on his desk, which i thought was a real test of leadership and he showed it. >> i think he's right and he satd he's going to take every action he has available to him to reverse this. yes, the buck does stop on his desk but very frankly, this money that was given to aig was largely given under the previous administration without the restrictions that we built into the second t.a.r.p. bill. it's unfortunate that they were not imposed at the beginning so people clearly knew the rules. you're not going to take our money and use it to enflat salaries, give huge severance bonuses or in this case, huge retention benefits. >> and finally, mr. leader, steny hoyer, you're in charge of the agenda, making sure that this thing that the president wants to do, change this country and, you know, steny, this is raw meat to the republicans. how much is this going to potentially slow down the agenda? >> i don't think it's going to slow down the agenda. we're going to have a bill on the floor tomorrow which will have a very substantial tax consequence, essentially taxing those people who teep kooep these bonuses at this company or other companies that have received a federal taxpayer dollars to try to help them get through this very, very bad patch. caused in large part by their irresponsibility and lack of accountability. so we're going to move ...