“A Culture of Excess” by Center for American Progress
March 23, 2009, 1:00am

Last week, in a revelation that produced a surge of populism in Washington and on Main Street, bailed-out insurance firm AIG revealed that it is still planning to pay at least $165 million in bonuses to top executives, many of whom helped bring “the company to the brink of collapse last year.” In response, President Obama said he was “stunned” by the bonuses, adding, “These financial industries are holding us hostage.” The House voted 328-93 to impose a 90 percent tax on bonuses paid by firms that received more than $5 billion in federal assistance. Despite the dire conditions of the economy, Wall Street excess is still rampant. ABC reports today that bailed-out bank JPMorgan Chase, which received $25 billion in TARP funds, “is going ahead with a $138 million plan to buy two new luxury corporate jets” and build “the premiere corporate aircraft hangar on the eastern seaboard” to house them. The revelation comes just as Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner is expected to announce a new financial rescue plan for the nation’s ailing banks, as well as new controls on executive pay. Wall Street, however, has hinted that it may oppose the administration’s attempts to rein in its culture of excess.

From The Progress Report