Yesterday, I had a moment when I was convinced the person making a statement had no sense of irony. Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee Barney Frank called out AIG executives for taking what he felt was excessive bonuses after the country bailed out AIG last year. The part that got me was when Frank claimed the bonuses were an example of AIG "rewarding incompetence."
I do have to point out here one fact that Democrats like Frank always seem to overlook when discussing the AIG bailout or any other recent bailout for that matter: Democrats controlled both houses of Congress, and Congress controls spending. No matter how many times Frank and his ilk try to pass the blame for various aspects of the bailouts onto the Republicans or cast aspersions onto AIG, the fact is they could have stopped it all.
But they didn't. In fact, they were some of the biggest cheerleaders for the bailout.
Frank and other Congressional Democrats are also quick to point out the lack of oversight of the spending of the bailout funds. Yet, these are the same folks who could have put in the oversight they now lament wasn't in the bailout bill. If oversight was so important, why didn't Congressional Democrats insist upon it?
Are the bonuses AIG's executives received excessive? Given the company's financial situation, I think they would have been smart to voluntarily forego the bonuses or reduce the amount they took, if for no other reason than to keep people like Frank off their backs. The key word here is voluntarily. They should be smart enough to know that AIG is under the federal microscope since taking bailout money, so their every action will be scrutinized. Having said that, they made the choice to tempt fate (or at least the federal government), and they're going to pay the price for it with a beating in the media.
And while we're here, let me point out something to President Obama. You said yesterday that you may ask for some of the bailout money back from AIG. Under the Constitution, you can't do that because, as I noted earlier, Congress controls spending, and they gave AIG the money. Read up on the separation of powers, Mr. President, and get back to me.
After all of this, Frank did say something I agree with to a point. He said, "Maybe it's time to fire some people. We can't keep them from getting bonuses, but we can keep them from having jobs."
If that isn't a ringing endorsement to send Frank and his Democrat pals in Congress packing in 2010, I don't know what is.