Bailout spending wasn’t stipulated

Published 9:34 pm Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Let’s see if we get this right.

Insurance giant AIG was failing “so spectacularly,” according to the Associated Press, that our government felt the need to send $170 billion of our tax dollars to support the company.

On Friday, 73 executives of that mismanaged, failing company received bonus checks of $1 million or more. All told, the company paid out $165 million in bonuses last week, in what is quickly becoming a national slap in the face of angry taxpayers.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

And all of a sudden, congressional Democrats are outraged about the situation. In fact, by late Tuesday they were demanding the AIG employees return the bonuses, or face mounting taxes.

Yes, it is frustrating to see so many millions of dollars being paid in annual bonuses. At the same time, though, we must recognize that the 73 employees agreed to take 2009 salaries of $1 million, instead of their regular compensation packages, in return for receiving the 2008 bonuses.

And, more important, we must recognize that the problems with AIG and the spending of bailout funds don’t start, or end, with these bonuses.

The $700 billion bailout package was ill-conceived, and we are only now starting to grapple with the problems caused by the lack of vision for the package. We can only imagine the frustration taxpayers will face in coming years as President Obama’s most recent package is implemented.

There is no perfect answer for the spending of taxpayer dollars in the bailout process. We have no clear-cut right or wrong solutions.

But if Congress, or the Treasury Department, didn’t have the foresight to provide stipulations on how the bailout dollars could be spent, it seems a bit late to try and make amends at this point.