March 14, 2009
"We cannot attract and retain the best and the brightest talent to lead and staff the AIG businesses which are now being operated principally on behalf of American taxpayers if employees believe their compensation is subject to continued and arbitrary adjustment by the U.S. Treasury."
Edward Liddy, AIG CEO, in a letter to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, saying the $165 million in bonuses to top employees should stand
After a p.r. mess, AIG may wish it had never gotten a bailout in the first place. News breaks that the troubled insurance giant which has received more than $170 billion in taxpayer money to help keep it afloat is awarding $165 million in bonuses to retain top executives. The move infuriates the public and ignites a firestorm of controversy at the White House and on Capitol Hill. The war against AIG will wage on for days, with everyone from President Obama to New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo vowing to get to the bottom of this perceived scandal. At this point, though, the Treasury Department claims it has no legal options to stop the bonuses from going forward.
Meanwhile, Obama has a rare Saturday reception in the Oval Office, hosting Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva while he's in town. Obama jokes with the press that he'd love to visit Brazil, adding, "I suspect that the Republican Party here would love to see me travel through the Amazon and maybe get lost."
Earlier in the day, the President focused on food in his weekly radio/video address. He called the nation's food system a "hazard to public health" and nominated former New York City Health Commissioner Margaret Hamburg to head the Food and Drug Administration.