Monday, March 16, 2009


I see that there's anger across party lines at AIG's payout of executive bonuses.

Summers: "Outrageous."

McConnell: "An outrage."

Pelosi: "Unconscionable."

I agree with Josh Marshall:

... what makes it such a dangerous moment for the White House ... is the jarring image of the administration's impotence.

Secretary Geithner found out about the bonuses. He told AIG CEO Edward Liddy it wouldn't fly. And Liddy, in a curiously imperial letter, tells Geithner that much as he is pained by the situation -- to blow it out his ass. Which he apparently proceeded to do.

... There's a beggars can't be choosers problem there. And the disconnect is so mighty that it fuels the impression that the whole enterprise is not what it seems, not what we've been told, that in addition to picking up the tab we're being played for fools.

So here's my proposal for how the White House can regain some dignity (and some money). You tell me if I'm crazy to think it could work: Obama and the Democrats accept the fact that these bonus have to be paid out legally -- but Democrats in Congress, with the blessing of the president, introduce a bill narrowly and specifically targeted at these bonuses, subjecting them to a federal income tax ... of 100%.

In terms of public opinion, I'd say this would be the most popular bill in the history of Congress.

What, if anything, prevents this from being done? And if it can be done, why not do it?

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