The news that John Thain, the CEO of Merrill Lynch, has requested a $10 million bonus isn’t sitting well with some prominent political figures.
A statement from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid notes that in October, Merrill received $10 billion in bailout money. Reid then declares:
The TARP program, from which Merrill Lynch has taken billions of taxpayer dollars, was designed explicitly to limit executive compensation, bonuses and golden parachutes. While American families struggle to keep their jobs and their homes, I question the chutzpah of asking for a $10 million taxpayer-subsidized bonus. Americans deciding which bills to pay this month just to make ends meet do not want their hard-earned money even indirectly spent rewarding executives from banks that are largely responsible for the economic crisis. I sincerely hope that Merrill Lynch rejects this request.
Meanwhile, New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, who is conducting an investigation of executive pay on Wall Street, has written a letter to Merrill board members that makes similar points. Cuomo writes:
Paying executives at Merrill millions each in “performance” bonuses in this context [of a taxpayer-funded bailout of Wall street firms] would be oxymoronic to say the least and certainly a thumb in the eye to taxpayers. Enough is enough.