While Wall Street executives were hard at work running their companies into the ground and begging Congress to give them billions in taxpayer dollars, they were also rewarding themselves handsomely on the American taxpayer’s dime.
According to the New York state comptroller, it is estimated that Wall Street employees took home $18.4 billion in bonuses, excluding stock options which would certainly increase the amount exponentially. That is comparable to the 2004 haul when things were good and the Dow was over 10,000 points. Instead, last year New York financial companies lost a total of $35 billion.
It is unclear just how much taxpayer money was used.
Two of the most appalling and egregious examples, however, involve companies that were propped up by the federal government. Bank of America, which recently acquired Merrill Lynch is coming under fire because while it went to the government well twice, former Merrill Lynch executive John Thain was decorating his office with an $87,000 area rug as well as a $35,000 toilet. In addition, government corporate welfare recipient Citigroup recently tried to purchase a $50 million plane, only to scuttle plans after an aide to President Obama reportedly told the company to “fix it.”
President Obama didn’t have many kind words for those Wall Street executives receiving big bonuses while receiving taxpayer dollars.
“That is the height of irresponsibility,” Obama said. “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.”
Although the second portion of the Troubled Assets Relief Fund is still available to use, the administration will likely have to go back to Congress for more and there is likely to be enormous pressure on them to put strict limits on all forms of executive compensation.
“Whether it was used directly or indirectly, this infuriates the American people and rightly so,” said Senator Christopher J. Dodd of Connecticut, the chairman of the Senate Banking Committee. “So I say to anyone else who does it, if you do it, I’m going to bring you before the committee.”
EconomyInCrisis.org urges you to contact the White House and members of Congress and tell them that Wall Street executives receiving millions of dollars of taxpayer money for their incompetence is outrageous. As the state comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said, American citizens have a right to know where their taxpayer dollars are going.
“The issue of transparency is a significant one, and there needs to be an accounting about whether there was any taxpayer money used to pay bonuses or to pay for corporate jets or dividends or anything else,” DiNapoli told the New York Times in an interview.
Click here to contact your Representative in Congress.