It just keeps getting better. Â From CBS News:
The head of financially strapped AIG told Congress he’s heard the rage over executive bonuses and has called on employees to voluntarily return at least half of the money.Â
Testifying under oath at a congressional hearing as intense as any in recent memory, Edward Liddy said that some workers there already have stepped forward to give money back.Â
Liddy, who is chairman and chief executive officer of AIG, told a House subcommittee that the bonuses could be defended legally as a legal obligation of the company. But he also said that given the national uproar, he asked those who got “retention payments” over $100,000 to return at least half of it.Â
That wasn’t enough for lawmakers, reportsÂ CBS News correspondent Nancy Cordes. Many remain furious that executives would getÂ anyÂ bonuses after their unit brought the insurance giant to its knees, requiring a $180 billion public rescue.Â
“I am now asking you to send us the names of those who have received bonuses who have not given them back,” demanded Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass.Â
Liddy told Frank he could only do that if the list of recipients would remain confidential.Â
Frank’s reply: “I won’t give you that assurance, sir. And so if that’s the condition it would be my intention to ask this committee to subpoena them.”Â
[…]Â He struggled to explain why his executives’ contractual bonuses were sacrosanct when workers in so many other industries – aviation, automotive, trucking – have seen their contracts broken.
But Liddy surprised lawmakers when he pointed out the Federal Reserve has known about the pending bonus payments for months.Â
“There is no attempt to do anything under the stealth of darkness or undercover,” he said. “We wanted to do what was right in these contracts.”Â
On Wednesday, President Barack Obama waded further into the matter, saying that while no one in his administration created AIG mess, the “buck stops with me” to fix it.Â
[…]Â But news of the bonuses wasÂ publicized last fall, prompting questions about how genuine any of the outrage directed toward AIG really is.
[…]Â Before Liddy’s testimony started in the afternoon, he could be seen chatting with a handful of pink-clad female protesters that held up signs reading “crook” and “give the money back.”
Before gaveling the session back in order, panel chair Rep. Paul Kanjorski, D-Pa., angrily told the protesters to lower their signs or leave the chamber.
“I’m a patient man, but don’t try my patience,” he said, raising his voice later to tell them “signs down!”
Kanjorski stopped testimony later when the signs reappeared and had security personnel confiscate them.