House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (MD) released the following statement today after the House passed legislation to take back bonuses given to individuals at companies receiving government assistance:
“In a crisis that has repeatedly shaken Americans’ faith in the most powerful financial institutions, the sordid AIG bonuses stand out. They crystallize the greed at the source of this crisis. Many of their beneficiaries join a long line of executives who feel entitled to personal enrichment, regardless of the performance of their companies and regardless of their destruction of others’ wealth. Among the recipients of these bonuses are executives who played a key role in bringing our economy to its sorry state—and their willingness to accept rewards for failure speaks poorly of their character.
“After its collapse, the federal government acquired an 80% stake in AIG—which means that these bonuses were largely paid for by average taxpayers, the same Americans who are struggling to hold on to their jobs and homes. Democrats will not allow that money to be wasted, especially at a time when all of our efforts are needed to turn this recession around and stabilize our financial markets. So we are taking every legal step to reclaim the money. The bill that has just passed the House is a first step to doing so, and more efforts can be expected in the days to come, both from Congress and the Obama Administration.
“I hope Republicans will provide constructive help in recovering the bonuses. But my expectations are not high. Republicans have repeatedly defended unchecked executive pay, and I am disappointed that so many in their conference voted to reject today’s bill and keep the bonuses in the hands of AIG executives. Both their past statements and their actions today make clear that Republican ‘outrage’ is opportunistic and manufactured.”