TPM News

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) and his GOP counterpart, Sen. Chuck Grassley (IA), have unveiled a plan to prevent future AIG-type bonuses from getting paid out by imposing a 35% excise tax on both individuals and companies involved in such awards.

Baucus' and Grassley's plan closely resembles the bonus tax proposal that Sens. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME) added to the economic stimulus bill -- before it was unceremoniously yanked from the final version of the measure.

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Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) told The Hill that he will not become a Democrat -- but he might become an independent.

"I'm staying a Republican because I think I have a more important role to play there," he said. "I think the United States very desperately needs a two-party system. ... And I'm afraid that we're becoming a one-party system, with Republicans becoming just a regional party."

On the other hand, Specter left the door open to the idea of running as an independent, though he would continue to caucus as a Republican.

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As outrage swells around massive bonuses paid to executives of bailed out financial institutions, Rep. Edolphus Towns (D-NY) wrote a letter Tuesday to Bank of America CEO Ken Lewis requesting more transparency on $3.62 billion in bonuses paid to Merrill Lynch executives. Reviewing the record on these bonuses, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform will investigate whether Merrill intentionally deceived regulators. Merrill, which has been owned by B of A since January, claimed in a letter on November 24 that it had not made decisions on bonuses. But subsequent testimony given to New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo shows that Merrill approved bonuses on November 11. (Reuters)

Felipe E. Sixto, a former aide to President George W. Bush, will be sentenced today for embezzling $579,247 from Center for a Free Cuba, a government-funded nonprofit organization.

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AIG CEO To Defend Company And Bonuses Before Congress Today AIG CEO Edward Liddy will be testifying today before the House Financial Services subcommittee, defending his company amidst the public uproar over the massive bonuses paid to its Financial Products division. The hearing begins at 10 a.m. ET.

Obama's Day Ahead President Obama is holding a closed meeting with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus at 10:45 a.m. ET.

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Since the AIG bonus brouhaha broke over the weekend, the hobbled insurance giant has essentially been claiming it had to make the payments because not doing so could have created a "defalt event," potentially exposing taxpayers to losses of hundreds of billions down the road.

That may or may not be a legitimate argument (most experts seem to be saying "not"). But it's worth noting that just a few short years ago, there was a case in which AIG wasn't quite so fastidious about honoring bonus agreements with its employees.

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Here's the newest ad from Jim Tedisco, the Republican candidate for Kirsten Gillibrand's former House seat -- seemingly tying himself to Barack Obama:



Tedisco says: "Like the President says, in these difficult times, we're not Republicans or Democrats -- we're Americans. And that's the team I'm on."

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We might all be waiting on a ruling from the Minnesota election court -- but even that doesn't stop the stream of interesting legal filings in this never-ending dispute.

The Star-Tribune reports that the the Franken campaign submitted over the weekend their specific list of rejected absentee ballots to be considered for counting, and it adds up to 430 envelopes -- 131 more than the number they'd given during closing arguments. All the ballots were already in evidence, so this is still allowable.

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Have you been wondering whether Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner is leaving some key details out in the chronology of his negotiations with AIG CEO Edward Liddy?

Since Geithner knew about Liddy's plans to pay out the company's now-infamous bonuses before they became public on Saturday -- and since the bonuses have been common knowledge in the media for months -- it's worth asking how directly Treasury was involved in okaying the payouts.

But it's too bad for Democrats that Republicans are the ones seeking the information.

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The Bradley Schlozman saga might have some life left in it, yet.

The Justice Department is reviewing a decision made earlier this year under the Bush Administration not to charge Schlozman, the former official who was found by an Inspector General report to have made false statements to the Senate about whether he considered political affiliations in hiring.

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The answer, of course, is fallen-from-grace New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer (D).

His pursuit of alleged wrongdoing at AIG was so relentless that some conservative-leaning commentators attempted to pin the company's downfall on Spitzer ... who had his own downfall to deal with by then.

But for no other reason than his insider's knowledge of AIG, it's worth reading Spitzer's take on the troubled company. The ex-governor agrees with Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA), who told TPMDC yesterday that the brouhaha over bonuses is a "red herring" of sorts that distracts attention from the truth of the AIG bailout: $100 billion of the taxpayers' $170 billion went not to bonuses, but to bailing out AIG's counterparties.

TPMLivewire