Don’t you feel good about bailing out the bastards who crashed the economy? Well, they certainly feel good about your contributions to saving their sorry asses — and they’ve been pocketing nice sums of money as a way of saying “thank you.”
All but one of the top executives at the failed insurer A.I.G. – which required more than $180 billion in emergency taxpayer financing – received pay packages worth more than $2 million. And 16 top executives at the three firms earned combined pay of more than $100 million.
“In 2012, these three TARP companies convinced Treasury to roll back its guidelines by approving multimillion-dollar pay packages, high cash salaries, huge pay raises and removing compensation tied to meeting performance metrics,” Christy Romero, the special inspector general, said in a statement. “Treasury cannot look out for taxpayers’ interests if it continues to rely to a great extent on the pay proposed by companies that have historically pushed back on pay limits.”
The report charges that Treasury has failed to rein in excessive pay at the three firms. It found that Treasury approved all pay raises requested for A.I.G., Ally and General Motors executives last year, with individual compensation increases ranging from $30,000 to $1 million. It also faults the Treasury overseer for allowing pay packages above what comparable executives at other firms receive.
The biggest problem with this, and the failure to indict and jail high executives for the illegal behavior, is that the lesson they learn is that there is no personal cost to failure. If you run a scam or, at best, you are incompetent and greedy, no big deal — you won’t face justice, you won’t lose your job and, even better, you will earn millions of dollars.