Thursday, February 11, 2010

Tell President Obama: Huge bonuses aren't okay

Dear MoveOn member,

In an interview this week, President Obama was asked about Goldman Sachs' CEO giving himself a $9 million bonus. He called the CEO, Lloyd Blankfein, a "savvy" businessman and said the American people don't begrudge him his wealth.1

There's one big problem: Every cent of bonus money Goldman Sachs has paid out in the last year belongs to taxpayers.2 That's because of huge taxpayer supports—including $12.9 billion of bailout money funneled directly to Goldman through AIG—none of which they have any intention of paying back.3

The fact is, the American people do begrudge wealth when it's taken directly out of their pockets. And "savvy" doesn't accurately describe a businessman who brought the world economy to the edge of collapse.

Can you let the president know that you're outraged that big banks have returned to business as usual while the rest of the country suffers? Tell him that appearing close to Wall Street is no way to gain voters' trust that he's on their side.

The White House

Then click here to let us know how it went:

In the past, the president has used language that's much more in touch with how most Americans see Wall Street's outsized bonuses, calling them "obscene" and "shameful."4 And he supported a 90% tax on last year's AIG bonuses.5 That's why this latest interview, where he compared the bankers who destroyed our economy to highly-paid baseball players, was so discouraging.

New York Times columnist Paul Krugman made clear why the president's analogy makes no sense, and why it's so troubling:

To my knowledge, irresponsible behavior by baseball players hasn't brought the world economy to the brink of collapse and cost millions of innocent Americans their jobs and/or houses.

And more specifically, not only has the financial industry has been bailed out with taxpayer commitments; it continues to rely on a taxpayer backstop for its stability.6

[The president] said some things about making compensation better tied to results—but it was framed purely in terms of stockholder interests, with no mention, again, of the damage bankers have done and the public support they still require.7

Can you let the president know how Wall Street's bonuses are seen on Main Street? Tell him that you want him to stand up to bankers who think they're entitled to billions of taxpayer dollars with no accountability.

The White House

Then click here to let us know how it went:

Thanks for all you do.

–Daniel, Peter, Kat, Ilyse, and the rest of the team


1. "What Obama Said About Those Bonuses," The Washington Post, February 10, 2010

2. "Strong Year for Goldman, as It Trims Bonus Pool," The New York Times, January 21, 2010

3. "Testy Conflict With Goldman Helped Push A.I.G. to Edge," The New York Times, February 6, 2010

4. "White House Moves Swiftly To Stem Fallout Of Obama Interview," The Huffington Post, February 10, 2010

5. "Obama Praises Bonus Tax, Looks Forward To Getting Final Bill," Talking Points Memo, March 19, 2009

6. "Clueless," The New York Times, February 10, 2010

7. "Wall Street Damage Control," The New York Times, February 10, 2010

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