03.01.2009 0

Editorial: Politicians Must Return AIG Campaign Cash

  • On: 03/24/2009 10:24:52
  • In: Economy
  • Last week, President Barack Obama set off a political furor when he sharply criticized $165 million in contractual bonuses given out to executives by American International Group, Inc. (AIG). Politicians in Washington are attempting to echo the American people, who are rightly expressing outrage over the bonuses being paid to AIG executives on taxpayer dollars.

    The irony is that the politicians, themselves, share much of the blame for the crisis: Congress looked the other way as the Federal Reserve gave first $85 billion in loaning to what soon became $173 billion to the troubled insurance giant. And it then authorized said contractual bonuses when Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT) buried the provision in the $787 billion “stimulus” spending bill. All the while the power elite have attempted to use the bonuses that they sanctioned as a gateway through which more government restrictions may be dumped upon AIG—and presumably other bailout-recipient companies.

    Another irony, as ALG News has previously reported, is that these posturing politicians have received “bonuses” of their own, not coincidentally, from AIG. This past election, President Obama received some $104,332 from the company in campaign donations. Senator Dodd, the bonus-backer, himself, received the second highest amount, coming in at $103,900.

    At least the AIG executives received the bonuses for work done—good or bad. The campaign contributions were given for no work at all—only a hope-for promise of work to come. And, as it turns out, they paid off, as President Obama’s Treasury Department worked to protect executive bonuses by inserting language into the near-$800 billion stimulus bill through a friendly senator.

    Senator Dodd, the one who did the dirty work, attempted to deny knowledge of the measure’s authorship. When pressed, however, he revealed the source behind the bonus measure—and, though this fact has been met with little attention by the mainstream media, the very fact that the scandal has happened under President Obama’s watch has resulted in a backlash of negative opinion towards the White House. One can only imagine the outcry if the full extent of two men’s financial involvement were scrutinized.

    Given the hefty campaign contributions AIG made to President Obama and Senator Dodd, it should not come as a surprise that the two of them worked so hard for the failing corporation. But the American people have begun to see through the fog of misinformation and are demanding—in overwhelming numbers—that politicians on the AIG donor roll return their contributions. A Rasmussen poll revealed that a full two-thirds (67 percent) of the American public believes that “politicians who received campaign contributions from American International Group (AIG) should return the money.”

    ALG’s Bill Wilson summed it up nicely last week. In a letter to Congress, he said:

    “[P]oliticians on the take from companies bailed out by government must give back the money they were given by AIG to look the other way while the company was receiving $173 billion in taxpayer-guaranteed loans that may never be paid back by a company that is still failing.”

    And to that must be added a hearty “Amen!” Those whose campaigns profited from the political donations of AIG must return those funds—and not just the President and Senator Dodd, but all members of Congress who accepted these dollars.

    It’s time to come clean. And that process must begin in the halls of government—especially before they attempt to clean up private industry. As one famous non-political leader opined in a certain Sermon on the Mount:

    “Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”

    Washington needs to examine its own actions before it feigns false outrage over the actions of a bailed-out company. And perhaps, as they do so, they will discover that their insistence on intervention has only made the situation worse.

    America doesn’t need more government. It needs greater protection from the government, at least in its present shape. And a good first step for Washington would be to clear its campaign coffers of all the political donations from AIG, whose dollars have clouded Washington’s judgment.

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