Given that TMQ has been railing against big bonuses to CEOs and Wall Street
types, you'd think I would be happy about the executive-pay limits Barack Obama
announced Wednesday. The announcement got fantastic press for Obama -- our new
president is the most gifted media manipulator since Ronald Reagan, and
successful modern presidents have had media-manipulation skills.
But the "limits" are not what they seem. For most firms that receive federal bailout
money, the "limits" are voluntary. Golly gee whillikers, CEOs will voluntarily
limit their own pay, won't they?
Corporate executives don't need a presidential directive to place voluntary limits on their bonuses, they can do that on their own at any point. The "limits" apply only to firms that receive what the Treasury Department calls "exceptional aid," meaning most of the millions and billions being handed out as gifts to banks around the country will continue to come with no strings attached.
So far, three firms have received aid classified as "exceptional" -- AIG, Bank of America and Citigroup. Guess what? AIG, Bank of America and Citigroup have been exempted from the limits. The "limits" announced by Obama would bind any firms that may receive "exceptional" aid in the future, but for now, bind no one.
Huh. That's disappointing in a "more of the same shit" kind of way.