TPM News

Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley (IA) has asked the Treasury Department inspector general (IG) to open an inquiry into senior officials' knowledge of AIG's plans to pay out $450 million in bonuses to employees of its disgraced Financial Products unit.

In a letter to the Treasury IG today, Grassley singles out the department's general counsel as the office "largely involved" in the decision to let AIG proceed with its bonuses. Treasury chief Tim Geithner has said he became aware of the bonuses last Tuesday and notified the White House two days later, but Grassley also has asked the IG to examine that timeline.

Grassley's full letter to the IG, Eric Thorson, can be read after the jump.

Read More →

Defense Secretary Robert Gates has notified members of Congress of the official lifting of the Bush-era ban on media access to deceased soldiers arriving at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware.

Gates' move was previewed two weeks ago, but today's guidance symbolizes the end of an era in which the human costs of war were essentially hidden from the American public. TPMDC has obtained a copy of the Pentagon's memo on the new proposal, which you can view after the jump.

Read More →

When Rep. Dennis Moore (D-KS) asked Citigroup CEO Vikram Pandit about his 2008 compensation last month, Pandit gave a simple answer: $1 million. Except the truth wasn't so simple.

Pandit actually received $11 million as part of a lavish package of stock awards and retention pay, making his testimony to Moore dangerously close to an outright falsehood. And Moore is calling on Pandit to explain himself in a frustrated letter sent yesterday, a copy of which has been obtained by TPMDC.

Moore writes:

While I was initially pleased to hear you agree to take a salary of $1 per year with no bonus until Citi returns to profitability, I am deeply troubled by this latest news. Should we expect additional, unexpected announcements of bonuses or financial compensation for your work in 2008 or going forward until Citi returns to profitability?

Here's that agreement that Joseph Cassano signed with AIG in March 2008, which gave him a $1 million a month consulting contract, after he had run the company into the ground.

Barney Frank's House Financial Services committee has released the contract that governed those AIG bonuses. We've posted it here.

No names are given, but you can see the terms of the payments.

Former GOP Senator Chuck Hagel is now vocally blasting his party -- or more specifically, the state of the party as it stands now under the likes of Rush Limbaugh and Michael Steele.

Hagel spoke to David Corn yesterday, describing Rush Limbaugh as "the center of gravity" for the current GOP. "We need a new center of gravity," Hagel made clear.

Hagel was also sharply critical of Michael Steele's public discussion about potential primary challenges to Arlen Specter, Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe for backing the stimulus bill. "People expect serious people to deal with serious issues and to govern seriously," said Hagel. "And when you don't do that, you become irrelevant."

A new national survey from Public Policy Polling (D) -- already looking ahead to the 2012 general election! -- pits Barack Obama against Sarah Palin.

The numbers: Obama 55%, Palin 35%. This margin is nearly identical to Obama's approval of 55% and disapproval of 37%. Palin's own personal favorables and unfavorables stand at 39%-50%.

The pollster's analysis has the obvious caveat that we can't know what might happen in the next few years, but these numbers would point to Obama winning over 400 electoral votes.

On the other hand, just think of the stability of our two-party political system, that somebody running against Sarah Palin would only lead by 20 points.

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.

Read More →

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.

Read More →

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.

Read More →

LiveWire