Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Obama to impose executive salary cap in future bailouts

As the country (and the world) continues to reel from the deepening recession, an arguable glimmer of good news for an angry and cynical public is expected to come out of Washington today with President Barack Obama's expected announcement his administration will impose a $500,000 salary cap for executives at companies that receive future government bailouts.

The New York Times reported late last night the president and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geither will make their announcement later today at the White House. The paper further reported the administration would further prohibit these executives from receiving any bonuses outside of stock dividends. It is also worth noting the Times highlighted Citigroup chief executive Vikram Pandit made $3.1 million in 2007 while Bank of America chief executive Ken Lewis made more than $20 million and General Motors chief executive Rick Wagoner made more than $14 million. All of these companies have received billions from the Troubled Asset Relief Program, and this announcement will almost certainly resonate extremely well with the vast majority of Americans who remain outraged over executive bonuses and other corporate perks that have not ceased during the economic crisis.

The salary cap almost certainly reflects the populist ideals on which Obama campaigned. The economic crisis continues to exert an ugly toll. Millions of Americans have lost their jobs, their life savings and in many cases their homes. The president pledged, among other things, to bring accountability back to Washington. And this announcement puts these executives on notice business as usual cannot continue.

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