Washington’s most powerful lawmakers are morphing into kitchen-table populists this morning with neck-snapping speed, as the House prepares to vote on a bill that would slap a 90% tax on AIG’s infamous executive bonuses.
Republicans, while openly wavering on whether their anti-tax creed would allow them to back the AIG tax bill, are pushing an alternative plan crafted by two of their freshmen, Leonard Lance (NJ) and Erik Paulsen (MN).
The GOP bill would force a recouping of 100% of the AIG bonuses — and the party clearly smells blood in the water as Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) becomes a scapegoat for the executive-pay debacle. Here’s how House Minority Leader John Boehner’s (R-OH) describes the Lance-Paulsen bill this morning:
Let’s be honest. The legislation House Democrats are bringing to the floor today, which they claim is the best way to recover the AIG bonuses, is a sham. In a perfect world, it would lead to partial recovery of the bonuses a year or more from now – when the executives get around to paying their income taxes. And because the legislation is so riddled with loopholes, it wouldn’t even lead to the recovery of all of the bonus dollars.
How is that a fair deal for taxpayers?
Don’t taxpayers deserve to get 100 percent of their money back?
After all, they aren’t responsible for the AIG executives getting the $165 million; Democrats in Congress and the Administration are. They’re the ones who rushed through the trillion-dollar “stimulus” spending bill that allowed the bonuses to be paid in the first place.
In reality, the AIG bonuses were agreed to in the first quarter of 2008, and it’s not clear whether Dodd’s concessions to the Treasury Department on his CEO-pay amendment would have made any difference in getting the money back. Meanwhile, an amendment that would have punished AIG for its free spending, from Sens. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME), was turned back by the administration during conference talks on the stimulus.