Monday, December 15, 2008

Who could have foreseen?: Executive pay edition

Executive Pay Limits May Prove Toothless
Congress wanted to guarantee that the $700 billion financial bailout would limit the eye-popping pay of Wall Street executives, so lawmakers included a mechanism for reviewing executive compensation and penalizing firms that break the rules.

But at the last minute, the Bush administration insisted on a one-sentence change to the provision, congressional aides said. The change stipulated that the penalty would apply only to firms that received bailout funds by selling troubled assets to the government in an auction, which was the way the Treasury Department had said it planned to use the money.

Now, however, the small change looks more like a giant loophole, according to lawmakers and legal experts. In a reversal, the Bush administration has not used auctions for any of the $335 billion committed so far from the rescue package, nor does it plan to use them in the future. Lawmakers and legal experts say the change has effectively repealed the only enforcement mechanism in the law dealing with lavish pay for top executives.
Really Washington Post? "May" prove toothless? I think from reading the article we've moved past "may be" and "will be" and have built a big beautiful mansion on "are" street. The Bush Administration, in all its executive humping wisdom, decided to neuter the one measure everyone seemed to agree on by completely lying about the way it was going to administer the bailout. We don't even get to feel good about punitive measures, our ability to say "Well they may be getting $700 billion, but those executives will only have to get by on their seven figure salaries!" has been stolen from us. Not surprising, but still, another reminder of the huge exclamation point at the end of the Bush mission statement of "Fuck everyone but the wealthy!" This exclamation point, were it to be accurately represented in physical size, would blot out the sun for most of the Northern Hemisphere.

This is why we need to take a lesson from the Iraqis, start our own shoe hurling 'sock and awe' campaign. It's all we have left. Though we're going to need some way to get the shoes back after we hurl them at our financial and elected betters, it's going to be a hard winter and we'll either need those shoes to walk from town to town looking for work or to boil the shoe leather for Christmas dinner.

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