While perusing some of my favorite reading, I found article upon article, from Lefty publications and blogs, that I was strangely agreeing with. The general consensus is that the White House and aides were protecting Tim Geithner and Larry Summers by scapegoating Chris Dodd for the AIG's executive bonuses.
Jane Hamsher, of Firedog Lake, penned a great sequence piece documenting the Administration's attempt to make Dodd, as she calls it, the "sin-eater." Hamsher's conclusion summarizes her post best, however, I do suggest reading it in its entirety.
Firedog Lake-It's impossible to know how many of those bonuses would have been covered by Dodd's original language without examining the individual contracts. What is certain, however, is that the loophole regarding "retroactivity" which facilitated the payout of the bonuses that AIG cited in their white paper, was something that Treasury specifically lobbied for. For the "administration official" to blame Dodd in the pages of the New York Times for the payout of these bonuses, after the White House publicly fought him tooth and nail to weaken compensation limits, is completely disingenuous.
Glenn Greenwald, of Salon fame, followed suit.
Salon-There is a major push underway -- engineered by Obama's Treasury officials, enabled by a mindless media, and amplified by the right-wing press -- to blame Chris Dodd for the AIG bonus payments. That would be perfectly fine if it were true. But it's completely false, and the scheme to heap the blame on him for the AIG bonus payments is based on demonstrable falsehoods.
He also makes a point about Dodd's political vulnerability and how this might play into account with the White House's agenda of protecting Geithner and Summers.
Salon-This is working because, as the White House well knows, Dodd is very politically vulnerable. He is a major target of the Right because of his genuinely questionable involvement with various banks, including his Countrywide mortgate, and this story (fueled by the fact that Dodd is a receipient of substantial AIG campaign donations), inflames those accusations.
Where I disagree with my comrades on the Left is their assertion that Dodd is just a righteous and innocent little lamb in all of this. His is either guilty of culpability through disingenuous intentions or stupidity. If you look at Dodd's own words to the Senate and the legislation itself, it demonstrates his temerity.
The amendment bans bonuses for most highly paid executives of TARP-recipient firms: Prohibits TARP recipients from paying a bonus, retention award, or other similar incentive compensation to the 25 most highly-paid employees ``or such higher number as the Secretary of the Treasury may determine is in the public interest with respect to any TARP recipient.''There has been a lot of talk about this phantom wording which appeared in his legislation sometime between February 6th-11th and unbeknown to Dodd. Supposedly it protected already existing contracts for bonuses at companies receiving federal bailout money making sure they were honored. Conversely, his original legislation technically already accomplished this goal. Under SA 354, Dodd's amendment to H.R.1, a standard was setup in which executive bonuses to be dispensed would be regulated by Treasury. Giethner, minus legal nuances, already was the final authority on who would get what under Dodd's amendment.
It requires a retroactive review: The Secretary of the Treasury must review bonus awards paid to executives of TARP recipients to determine whether any payments were excessive, inconsistent with the purposes of the act or the TARP or otherwise contrary to public interest and, if so, seek to negotiate with the recipient and the subject employee for appropriate reimbursement to the Government.
From SEC. 6002. EXECUTIVE COMPENSATION AND CORPORATE GOVERNANCE, Sec.(1), Subheading(b).
(b) Standards Required.--The Secretary shall require each TARP recipient to meet appropriate standards for executive compensation and corporate governance.
As earlier pointed out by Greenwald, the next burnt offering is Dodd's lucid and sorted history of donations from AIG. In 2008, Dodd took the number two spot, receiving $103,900 from AIG, while Obama held the number one spot with $104,332.
None of this is being offered up as proof that Dodd acted alone and Treasury or Obama should be extricated from blame. I wholeheartedly agree with Hamsher and Greenwald that Dodd is being targeted by the White House for sole scapegoat status. Nevertheless, I simply don't buy the fact that he was an innocent dolt meandering around at the whim of his puppet-master, Obama. Dodd knew he was aiding and abetting Obama's agenda, he just didn't think he would get caught.
Final Note: One other thing I didn't quite understand was Greenwald's constant admonishment of the "right wing press" for stoking these fires when it was CNN who broke the story and took the lead.