Free Markets, Free People

Some Bonuses Less Outrageous Than Others

If you are inclined to accept without question that the bonuses paid to AIG employees deserve unmitigated moral indignation, as Pres. Obama and the Democrats seem to, then shouldn’t that opprobrium cut across the board? Well, I guess some animals are more equal than others:

At least four Fannie Mae executives are slated to receive more than $400,000 in bonuses each this year as a result of the company’s government-approved retention program, The Post’s Zach Goldfarb reports.

The executives include chief operating officer Michael Williams ($611,000), deputy chief financial officer David Hisey ($517,000), and executive vice presidents Thomas Lund ($470,000) and Kenneth Bacon ($470,000).

Each of these executives earned about $200,000 in retention payments last year and salaries ranging from $385,000 to $676,000.

According to the report, such bonuses are doled out depending on how integral the employee is to the companies, as approved by the FHFA:

Fannie Mae, which suffered $59 billion in losses last year, has requested $15 billion in taxpayer assistance, and has said it expects to need plenty more.

All major compensation decisions are authorized by Fannie Mae’s federal regulator, the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which created a retention program when the company was seized last September to hold on to key employees.

Under the program, employees are eligible to receive up to 150 percent of their salary in bonuses this year, but many will receive far less than that, and some might receive zero, depending on how central they are deemed to the company’s task.


Congressman Barney Frank, one of Fannie Mae’s and Freddie Mac’s biggest supporters, and Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee which oversees the institutions, was reached for comment and had this to say about whether paying retention bonuses was really necessary:

That’s nonsensical. It’s clear they made a lot of mistakes and we need to undo what they did. If they really understood what they did in the first place, seriously, they probably wouldn’t have done much of it. Secondly, when you are trying to undo something, it is often not the case that the people who did it are the ones to put in place. People are sometimes committed to not admitting mistakes. … So that argument I think is in fact almost counter, because the argument that you take the people who made the mistake and put them in charge of undoing the mistake goes against the human impulse not to admit a mistake.

Oops! Sorry, about that. The foregoing statement was from Barney Frank, but he was referring to AIG bonuses.

This morning, ThinkProgress sat down with Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA), who chairs the House Financial Services Committee and has called for the firing of AIG executives. When asked to respond to Sorkin’s claim that only AIG employees can navigate the economy out of the mess they created, Frank dismissed it as “nonsensical”

Pigs in the House indeed.

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16 Responses to Some Bonuses Less Outrageous Than Others

  • It gets better.
    Turns out the Democrat voted to let the AIG folks keep their bonuses.

  • “If you are inclined to accept without question that the bonuses paid to AIG employees deserve unmitigated moral indignation, as Pres. Obama and the Democrats seem to…”

    … and Republicans.

    Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, “Particular the employees that got them into this mess in the first place. I think it’s an outrage.”
    Senator Charles Grassley, the top Republican on the Senate finance committee, made the comments in a radio interview, “The first thing that would make me feel a little bit better about them is if they’d follow the Japanese example and come before the American people and take a deep bow and say, I’m sorry, and do one of two things: resign, or go commit suicide.”

    Just to name a couple.

    I mean, we wouldn’t want to leave the impression that it was just the Democrats that were the only ones that think “the bonuses paid to AIG employees deserve unmitigated moral indignation.”

    Now would we?


    • Great point!  That is, it would be if the Republicans were in charge of anything, or were drafting laws to tax AIG employees at 100% rates, or had drafted the bills that allowed the bonuses in the first place.  Otherwise, spot on.

      And FWIW, I didn’t realize Grassley was still a Republican.  And I’m not entirely sure why he is anyway.

      • If he’s a Republican, than Republican means Leftist. Which it probably does. 

    • oh oh it is the democratic sockpuppets coming to save the day.

      Hey Pogue, I have been meaning to ask you if this was you, because this guy Richard Warman is a class A douche

      [58] In regard to the other remedies sought by Mr. Warman, I have decided not to grant any relief under these provisions for the following reasons.
      [59] During his cross-examination, Mr. Warman admitted (after initially denying) that he had participated in communicating messages on Internet Websites similar to the Northern Alliance Website utilizing pseudonyms such as “Pogue Mahone” and “Axetogrind”.

    • I mean, we wouldn’t want to leave the impression that it was just the Democrats that were the only ones that think “the bonuses paid to AIG employees deserve unmitigated moral indignation


      Point of order: The Dems are the only ones with the legislative power to do anything.


    • How many Republicans voted for the Porkulus bill that contained the Dodd amendment that blessed those bonuses?  And does anybody remember the general opinion around here of that (ahem) select little group?

      I also have to wonder what other little gifts to AIG, Freddy / Fanny, and other bailed out companies are buried somewhere in Porkulus.

    •  Rather a weak defense, considering the thrust of the article is not so much the outrage expressed at the AIG bonsus, but the LACK of outrage from the same individuals about the Fannie and Freddie bonusus.  

      • Who’s defending who here, looker?  Ask yourself that as you read this comments thread again.
        I merely point out that to give the impression that it’s just Democrats, not Republicans, that express “outrage” over the AIG bonuses would be a wrong impression to give.  I have no quibble with Michael thrusting Barney Franks.  Franks can go eat sh!t and die as far as I’m concerned.

        Something else for you guys to consider, that is if you can stow your liberal bashing for a hot minute, 85 House Republicans just voted to tax the AIG f*cksticks 90%.

        • Yes, and words cannot express how “happy” I was with that.  Today I plan to check to see if my representative voted YES for same, and if he did, he can expect to hear about how ‘happy’ I am.

          • I’m beginning to like this guy more and more, he voted NO.

            Standing on principle. 

  • Have you seen the bigger piggies
    In their starched white shirts
    You will find the bigger piggies
    Stirring up the dirt
    And they always have clean shirts to play around in.

    And in their styes with all their backing
    They don’t care what goes on around
    And in their eyes there’s something lacking
    What they need’s a damm good whacking.

    Yeah, everywhere there’s lots of piggies
    Playing piggy pranks
    And you can see them on their trotters
    Down at the piggy banks
    Paying piggy thanks
    To thee pig brother

    – Everybody: –
    Everywhere there’s lots of piggies
    Living piggy lives
    You can see them out for dinner
    With their piggy wives
    Clutching forks and knives to eat their bacon.

    With apologies to George Harrison

  • We find out tonight that Christopher Dodd did indeed put the amendment into the Stimulcrapulous package that allowed AIG to dole out their bonuses.

    Dodd must go, and NOW. There should be editorials calling for his resignation, after all of the crooked thievery he was behind with the Countrywide loans that he took illegally.

    Rob Simmons, former US Representative, will run against Dodd in the 2010 election for the US Senate. We need to trumpet Simmons’ candidacy, and do everything we can to sink the Dodd ship, called The Titanic.

  • “You know that I care what happens to you
    And I know that you care for me too
    So I don’t feel alone
    Of the weight of the stone
    Now that I’ve found somewhere safe
    To bury my bone
    And any fool knows a dog needs a home
    A shelter from pigs on the wing”

    Credit to Roger Waters