So the House voted 328 to 93 to get back most of the AIG bonus money by levying a 90 percent tax on it. "The people have said 'no,'" Rep. Earl Pomeroy shouted on the House floor. "In fact, they said 'hell no, and give us our money back.'" The North Dakota congressman also called the AIG executives "disgraced professional losers (here's the DealBook item). Firing squad, anyone? No mention, by the way, of where Congress or the SEC or the other regulatory agencies or the press were all doing while the AIG "losers" were concocting these exotic wagers. And not much concern about the dysfunctional act of tearing up a contract (maybe I can get to do the same thing on my lease or mortgage?). When people are looking for scapegoats, the letter of the law apparently takes a back seat.
At last, here is some context from the WashPost:
The handful of souls who championed the firm's now-infamous credit-default swaps are, by nearly every account, long since departed. Those left behind to clean up the mess, the majority of whom never lost a dime for AIG, now feel they have been sold out by their Congress and their president. "They've chosen to throw us under the bus," said a Financial Products executive, one of several who spoke on condition of anonymity, fearing reprisals. "They have vilified us." They say what is missing from this week's hysteria is perspective. The very handsome retention payments they received over the past week were set in motion early last year when the firm's former president, Joe Cassano, was on his way out the door. Financial Products was already running into trouble on its risky credit bets, and the year ahead looked grim. People were weighing offers from other firms, and AIG executives feared that too many departures could lead to disaster. So AIG stepped in with an offer to employees of Financial Products. Work through all of 2008, and you'd get a lump payment in March 2009. Stick around through 2009, and you'll get paid through 2010. Almost all other forms of compensation -- bonuses, deferred payments and the like -- have vanished.