Friday, January 30, 2009

President Obama Criticizes Huge Wall Street Bonuses Following Bailout

Late last year, the Republicans blamed workers and organized labor for auto industry problems while ignoring skyrocketing CEO salaries. Their accusations came against a backdrop of eight years of Bush administration hostile labor policies.

It was refreshing, therefore, to hear President Obama speak about the irresponsibility of Wall Street executives who, after a disastrous year capped by a $700 billion taxpayer bailout, gave themselves $20 billion in bonuses. His statements, captured in the video above, come at a time when he may appeal to Congress for more money to help the faltering financial industry, while encountering demands for accompanying restrictions in pay. The president also referred to bailout recipient Citigroup's plans, recently abandoned, to buy a $50 million corporate jet.

Regarding the bonuses, President Obama said, “That is the height of irresponsibility. It is shameful. And part of what we’re going to need is for the folks on Wall Street who are asking for help to show some restraint and show some discipline and show some sense of responsibility... There will be time for them to make profits, and there will be time for them to get bonuses. Now's not that time.”

Like FDR criticizing the "economic royalists" at the 1936 Democratic National Convention, it takes a Democratic president to speak out against Wall Street excess and greed.


Anok said...

Isn't it refreshing? Obama also reversed Bush policies that restricted organized labor.

Maybe he really is interested in helping the average person after all.

Jeff Tone said...

Anok: Obama has also reversed Bush policies on torture and the Freedom of Information Act. He supports the Employee Free Choice Act. Obama has a long way to go, though, to reverse all the damage of the past eight years. At the end of his term, Bush did as much as he could to enact destructive initiatives on health care, labor, the environment and civil liberties. Here's one of the posts I wrote on that topic: