Washington, Jan.30 (ANI): US President Barack Obama has branded Wall Street bankers "shameful" for giving themselves nearly 20 billion dollars in bonuses, while knowing that the American economy is deteriorating and that the government was spending billions to bail out some of the nation's most prominent financial institutions.
Obama was reacting to a report by the New York State comptroller that found financial executives had received an estimated 18.4 billion dollars in bonuses for 2008, less than for the previous several years but the same level of bonuses as they received in 2004, when times were flush."That is the height of irresponsibility. It is shameful. And part of what we're going to need is for the folks on Wall Street who are asking for help to show some restraint and show some discipline and show some sense of responsibility," Obama said
"There will be time for them to make profits, and there will be time for them to get bonuses," Obama said during an appearance in the Oval Office with Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner.
"Now's not that time. And that's a message that I intend to send directly to them, I expect Secretary Geithner to send to them."
According to the New York Times, Obama frequently railed against excesses in executive compensation on the campaign trail. He struck his populist tone as he confronted the possibility of having to ask Congress for additional large sums of money, beyond the 700 billion dollars already authorized, to prop up the financial system, even as he pushes Congress to move quickly on a separate economic stimulus package that could cost taxpayers as much as 900 billion dollars.This week alone, American companies reported as many as 65,000 job cuts, and public anger is rising over reports of profligate spending by banks and investment firms that are receiving help from the 700 billion dollar fund.
About half of that money is still available, but the new administration has yet to announce how it will use it, even as many analysts think it will take far more to stabilize the banking system.
Treasury Secretary Geithner has already signaled a willingness to impose stricter compensation limits as part of a revamped approach to dealing with the banking crisis, but with his strong words on Thursday, Obama seemed intent on reassuring Congress and the public that he would step up the pressure on bankers before granting them additional assistance.
The Obama administration and lawmakers have begun to consider ways to control executive pay; the bailout fund, known as the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP, would be the main vehicle for exerting such control.
During his confirmation hearings, Geithner said the administration is preparing rules that would require executives at companies receiving taxpayer money to agree that any compensation above a certain amount - he did not specify how much - be "paid in restricted stock or similar form" that could not be liquidated or sold until the government had been repaid. (ANI)