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March 19, 2009

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I agree to the extent that the government can't just override by fiat. I mean, don't get me wrong. i would get some pleasure out of seeing that -- but you're right that it would be wrong, and against what we've been arguing the past 8 years.

but... I think the options on the table are more -- shall we say -- ethically ambiguous. so i list:

1 - Taxing them at near 100% rates. That's certainly violating the spirit of the contract I suppose, but would that cross the line?

2 - What about setting conditions? No more money until you renegotiate those contracts. That's basically what happened to the UAW workers.

The problem though is that these individuals probalby couldn't give a crap if the entire company and economy go under. The incentives aren't aligned. That's not true with the UAW workers who do actually care about health of company.

Personally, I'm leaning more toward tax route coupled with PROSPECTIVE limits, but could be persuaded that this is unethical.

With any luck, for instance, the people at AIGFP have blown any chance that hedge fund managers might have had to keep their absurdly preferential tax treatment.

Let's hope so. My former firm was asked to put together a sort of white paper on why this loophole should remain and it was notable that the paper got sent around to all the tax attorneys by the partner organizing it asking if anyone had any policy arguments because the ones the working group had come up with were "not very good."

Even better would be to align the capital gain and ordinary income tax rates, like St. Ronnie of the Holy 1980s did with the Tax Reform Act of 1986.

1 - Taxing them at near 100% rates. That's certainly violating the spirit of the contract I suppose, but would that cross the line?

You know, we already have enough ridiculous tax policy in this country without passing what seems to me to be a horrible precedent-setting, Terry Schiavo-esque tax bill (not that that has ever stopped congress before).

I don't think it's nearly as hard as they said -- just last month the Delaware Chancery Court upheld a different, but related, shareholder suit against AIG because of clear allegations the place was run like a "criminal organization."

Once you're in that realm of breaching fiduciary duty, which we definitely are given indications the AIGFP people refused to permit the auditors to review their own books, a whole world of remedies becomes available, including voiding the contract or reforming it.

See my post linked via my name (I'm a lawyer who sues people like this).

You guys are making this harder than it has to be. One word: RICO.

The whole thing is a stinky mess.

The best way to handle stinky messes is to go back in time and not do the thing that caused the stinky mess.

Unfortunately that's not available to us mere mortals, so the *next* best thing is to cut your losses and move on.

It sticks in the craw to pay these folks millions of bucks to stick around and fix the mess they made, but all of the proposals for not doing so -- passing special laws and/or special tax brackets, ordering AIG to not pay, etc -- seem like cures that are worse than the disease.

We got pantsed. Sometimes the bear eats you, and sometimes you eat the bear. Pay them the bonuses and let's move on.

'Move on' should include, and hopefully will include, legislation that places meaningful and reasonable limits on the level of risk that any financial company can take.

Per TJ's suggestion, I am absolutely not opposed to investigations into the possible fraudulent or otherwise criminal activity, I just think that should be considered on its own, and not as some kind of payback for the bonuses.

Let's just pay up and move on. Never worry, tomorrow will bring some fresh new financial time bomb we'll have to defuse. These folks were very creative.

I second TJ on this.

The contract says that they get the money, so they get the money. I don't want to have to reinterpret the constitution to claw back the money.

Let's stop bothering Geithner about million dollar problems when he's trying to cope with trillion dollar problems. Let Eric Holder decide whether or not there's a problem with what these guys did to "earn" their bonuses.

This is not about what the contract says, but about fair procedures for dividing up what is left in a bankrupt entity. In a traditional bankruptcy or receivership (or whatever procedure AIG would go through -- I am not sure since insurance companies and banks do not go through traditional bankruptcy court), these parties would not have received their bonuses. So why are they getting them now?

We are in this anomalous situation because the initial geniuses in the Bush administration that implemented the AIG bail out (which plan is apparently being continued by the Obama folks) thought it better to prop up AIG as fictitiously still in business even though it is bankrupt and surviving solely on government handouts.

That has allowed selected insiders to cash out with 100% of their money, while the taxpayer is footing the bill. I understand the initial thinking behind the AIG bailout, but it has always been an illusion to prop up an illusion, and thereby hopefully prevent the financial crash from landing harder than it already has. It is now breeding nut-ball results, of which the bonus payout is one tiny example. Of far greater consequence but of the same character is the 100% payouts by AIG on CDS contracts to those counterparties lucky enough to be first in line. Excuse me, those insiders who elbowed their way to the front of the line, after making sure their pals in government would write rules to allow them to cut the line. Well, maybe not that cynical, but not a process that seems to have as its first goal the greater public good, except when that can be made to bend around the greater good of the current insiders.

If we have to sit down and write an emergency receivership law for "to-big-to-fail" entities like AIG, Citibank, etc., then we should do that and bite the bullet on the consequences. The current ad hoc plans (including the related toxic asset work-out plans) seem to be based on illusions about how bad this is, and that pretending it is not so bad is the way to fix it. What we are getting is a completely disorderly workout that permits insiders to thieve the system. And that is no surprise -- current bankruptcy/receivership procedures are based on long experience that this is exactly what happens with a failing financial entity, and must therefore be regulated to prevent it.

The political cost of this "distraction" (allegedly Rahmn's description of the issue) could be enormous, and it is distressing to watch this slow train wreck that could ruin Obama's opportunities for real change in other areas. Why blow political capital defending a work-out plan that seems designed to avoid pain to the insiders more than it furthers the public good?

And send a message -- pass any reasonable law to claw back these bonuses. If they do not ultimately work, so what. The principle to be enforced is that no one should expect the government bail out to line their pockets. These moral retards in the financial sector should be fearful of the consequences of gaming the government work-out.

In a traditional bankruptcy or receivership (or whatever procedure AIG would go through -- I am not sure since insurance companies and banks do not go through traditional bankruptcy court), these parties would not have received their bonuses.

Is it accurate so say that those working for a company in bankruptcy don't get paid according to their contracts before creditors?

I don't think that is correct: those managing the assets in recievership do get paid before creditors, or else no one would do it.

Don't payrolls get paid before creditors once a firm goes bankrupt?

"1 - Taxing them at near 100% rates. That's certainly violating the spirit of the contract I suppose, but would that cross the line?"

Section 9 of the U.S. Constitution states: "No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed."

IANAL, but if what you're proposing doesn't violate the letter of that, it damn well violates the spirit. It seems to me a horrific notion to propose that Congress has the power to go around deciding it wants to punish some group of people by passing a law to ex post facto take away all their money, or some specific amount, away, specifically to punish them.

That strikes me as mob rule and abuse of the worst possible sort. I'm horrified that anyone, let alone a lawyer, would propose this as a good idea, whatever the proposition, even if it is/was constitutitional. Who would want to live in a country where a Congress could do that sort of thing arbitrarily to any group of people whenver it wants? Who might be next?

This is not about what the contract says, but about fair procedures for dividing up what is left in a bankrupt entity.

Who's bankrupt? As far as I can tell, AIG has a liquidity problem, not necessarily an assets < liabilities problem. Am I wrong?

i meant the AIG bonuses gary - tax those at 100% (with appopriate non-specific wording). jeez. next up, widows and orphans!

also, i'm 90% sure ex post facto only applies to criminal laws.

As I said a couple of days ago:

The clause thus prohibits all legislative acts, ''no matter what their form, that apply either to named individuals or to easily ascertainable members of a group in such a way as to inflict punishment on them without a judicial trial.

This is just an excerpt; a lawyerly reading of the whole thing might yield some different interpretation.


That strikes me as mob rule and abuse of the worst possible sort. I'm horrified that anyone, let alone a lawyer, would propose this as a good idea, whatever the proposition, even if it is/was constitutitional. Who would want to live in a country where a Congress could do that sort of thing arbitrarily to any group of people whenver it wants? Who might be next?

I'm with Gary on this. If the AIG bonus brigade can be publically shamed into giving some (which has already happened) or all of the money back, I think that is good. But having Congress try to take back that money by legislative fiat is horrifying. If we really don't want to pay these people any more of our money, then fire them - we are the majority shareholders, we can tell Libby to go out and hire somebody else to do the job.

BTW, why is all this attention being paid to AIG and hardly any at all to the bonuses paid to the folks at Merrill Lynch who took away 20 times as much money, and appear to have done so under circumstances on much shakier legal grounds than at AIG?

But having Congress try to take back that money by legislative fiat is horrifying.

Seconded. This sort of lawlessness is more dangerous to our society than anything that was done at Gitmo. There's no telling what the economic consequences might be.

At the risk of boring everyone, I'll repeat myself: If the folks getting this money did something illegal, let the law have them. But don't trash our system of laws for the sake of a few million dollars. It is not worth it.

Seconded. This sort of lawlessness is more dangerous to our society than anything that was done at Gitmo. There's no telling what the economic consequences might be.

This is sarcasm right?

At the risk of boring everyone, I'll repeat myself: If the folks getting this money did something illegal, let the law have them. But don't trash our system of laws for the sake of a few million dollars. It is not worth it.

I really don't get why I should care about this case. If you want to make an argument about our system of laws, talk about the drug war or the military industrial complex or the surveillance state or the failure to regulate predatory lenders or the fact that prosecutor offices get paid a whole lot more than public defenders. Those are real problems in our system of laws that produce serious injustices. But even in the worst case, a few wealthy guys who were affiliated with a probably crooked company that tanked our entire economy losing some of their ill-begotten gains in a political firestorm just doesn't compare.

People get screwed all the time. Oftentimes, the screwing is arbitrary and non-sensical. It may well be for these folk. Random acts of injustice happen in any large institution, but I'm having trouble getting worked up about this one given how few people it touches, how small the effect on those people is, and how easily those people will be able to absorb the loss. Breathless talk about "lawlessness" and "trashing our system of laws" seems misplaced compared to actual systemic defects that impact millions of people in massive ways who can't easily shrug off those injustices.


Who would want to live in a country where a Congress could do that sort of thing arbitrarily to any group of people whenver it wants?

I don't know. Who would want to live in a country that imprisons as many people for ours does? Or a country that runs a drug war the way ours does?

This horrible practice that you're denouncing seems to have been done, what, once every two centuries? There isn't much of a trend here. Congress screwing over a handful of individuals once every few centuries in a relatively minor way strikes me as...insignificant compared to the other serious things it does wrong. Do you disagree with that assessment?

Who might be next?

I don't know: who do you think is next? I don't see any reason to believe that anyone is next or that Congress is going to make a habit of this. Do you? And if you don't, why are you asking the question?

"i meant the AIG bonuses gary - tax those at 100% (with appopriate non-specific wording). jeez. next up, widows and orphans!"

Yes. What, exactly, if this is legal, to stop the next Republican Congress from applying such taxes to Planned Parenthood, all clinics and doctors that do abortions, all leftist bookstores, a list of leftist writers and magazines and blog companies, and anyone else they think needs such a tax?

What, precisely, is the principle you are proposing here, Publius? How does it fit with the rule of law?

"but I'm having trouble getting worked up about this one given how few people it touches, how small the effect on those people is"

Paging Martin Niemöller. Pastor Martin Niemöller to the white courtesy phone, please.

It's always a tiny unpopular minority that no one sympathizes with that, you know, no one cares about, and you can start doing such things to.

"i meant the AIG bonuses gary - tax those at 100% (with appopriate non-specific wording). jeez. next up, widows and orphans!"

Yes. What, exactly, if this is legal, to stop the next Republican Congress from applying such taxes to Planned Parenthood, all clinics and doctors that do abortions, all leftist bookstores, a list of leftist writers and magazines and blog companies, and anyone else they think needs such a tax?

What, precisely, is the principle you are proposing here, Publius? How does it fit with the rule of law?

"but I'm having trouble getting worked up about this one given how few people it touches, how small the effect on those people is"

Paging Martin Niemöller. Pastor Martin Niemöller to the white courtesy phone, please.

It's always a tiny unpopular minority that no one sympathizes with that, you know, no one cares about, and you can start doing such things to.

This is sarcasm right?

I'm not joking. The US economy isn't in good shape right now. We aren't sure that we can even sell enough T-bills to fund the bailout, stimulus, and renewal programs we want. I don't think this is a good time to signal to the world that we don't respect contracts. That's why I favor prosection and public shaming. I'm not willing to endanger our economic future for the sake of mere millions.

I'm with Gary: I think that taxing the bonuses is wrong. I'm not absolutist about this -- I can't think of a case in which I'd be for this sort of retributive taxation of legal assets (and if they're not legal, that's for the courts to figure out) -- but the stakes would have to be much higher.

The ballgame, as far as I'm concerned, involves real, serious regulation going forward, real, serious policies about how to deal with this stuff, and some actual pain to the people involved in these transactions. An end to the idea that rich people, as such, are deserving and wonderful, that exorbitant salaries are necessarily earned because hey, the market, etc., would also be nice.

(Obligatory disclaimer: it's not that I want to replace the idea that rich people, per so, are wonderful with the idea that rich people, per se, are horrible. Regarding them as akin to the rest of humanity would be fine by me.)

hilz - i know that two wrongs dont' make a right. but how is this analytically different from forcing UAW concessions on pre-existing contractual rights.

it seems like state coercion is still being applied to pre-existing rights. is that different?

The power to tax is the power to destroy, and what good is having power if you don't use it once in a while?

100% tax on bonuses for all workers of all companies taking bailout money. Those are not "easily ascertainable members of a group" given the trouble it has taken to get a report on a subset of a subset of that group.

And if anyone at those companies can be coerced - err, I mean convinced - to testify that management knew at the time the bonuses were considered the likely financial situation the companies were heading towards, long prison sentences too, handed out like candy on Halloween.

I still don't understand why these contracts cannot be modified but UAW contracts can.

Or perhaps UAW is willing (being bullied into it) and AIG isn't?

"And if anyone at those companies can be coerced - err, I mean convinced - to testify that management knew at the time the bonuses were considered the likely financial situation the companies were heading towards, long prison sentences too, handed out like candy on Halloween."

For an ex post facto crime?

I'm so glad people are willing, nay, eager to toss out the idea of constitutional rights, when they're angry.

Talk about why pure democracy is a terrible idea. And inalienable rights aren't.

Just take the nouns everyone is mad at here out of the equation, and put in some group that the Malkin/Limbaugh crowd despises, and tell me again what a good idea these sorts of ex post facto laws and taxes are.

how is this analytically different from forcing UAW concessions on pre-existing contractual rights.

it seems like state coercion is still being applied to pre-existing rights. is that different?

What rights, and what state coercion, are you referring to, specifically? Did Congress change some law to retroactively, or subsequently, tax the UAW, as is being called for here? Cite?

"I still don't understand why these contracts cannot be modified but UAW contracts can."

I don't know much about UAW negotiations, past or otherwise, but it's my understanding that all modifications were voluntary. Contracts are also subject to modification, as I understand it, during a bankruptcy proceeding.

Presumably if both AIG and its employees wish to modify their contracts, past or present, they're able to.

"Presumably if both AIG and its employees wish"

Mutually wish, that is.

Meanwhile, back in reality:

Spurred on by a tidal wave of public anger over bonuses paid to executives of the foundering American International Group, the House voted 328 to 93 on Thursday to get back most of the money by levying a 90 percent tax on it.

isnt this a de facto bankruptcy? are the concerns still there if we limit these actions to companies on life support where gov has 80% stake?

if gov hadn't stepped in, aig would be bankrupt and - as i think kevin drum said - they would have to go stand in line for their bonuses.

For an ex post facto crime?

Fraud is not an ex post facto crime. If management knew they were heading into the situation they were actually heading into at the time the bonuses were contracted, they committed fraud. Very plain, very simple fraud of the type that is prosecuted on a regular basis, and that often results in long stays in a federal pound me in the a** prison.

Talk about why pure democracy is a terrible idea. And inalienable rights aren't.

You do not have an inalienable right to commit fraud. And if representative government is going to pay my tax money to those people under these circumstances, then let's talk about why representative government is a terrible idea, and let's talk about why instinctive subservience to those of infinite greed and arrogance is a terrible idea.

I asked earlier and apologize if someone answered, but is this:

if gov hadn't stepped in, aig would be bankrupt and - as i think kevin drum said - they would have to go stand in line for their bonuses. accurate?

Don't wages to employees get paid before creditors?

I thought it worked like a foreclosure where there is a workers lien: it takes priority over other creditors, precisely to protect the little guy.

Is it accurate so say that those working for a company in bankruptcy don't get paid according to their contracts before creditors?

Unpaid bonuses at time of filing are treated like any other creditor claim. They may get a slightly higher priority depending on their exact nature (i.e., they were really just salary) -- I do not know the exact law on that well enough to say.

After the bankruptcy is filed (Ch. 11), employeees continue to be paid normally as an administrative expense, though the operation is under court supervision. No court would allow these bonuses post-filing for post-filing employment. This has to do with the "debtor in possession" concepts.

A receivership, which is what is used for banks and insurance companies, are a different animal since the receiver and its employees run the show and get paid -- they are separate from the failed company. The amount of their fees are subject to court approval. In a receivership, existing management and employees are terminated. There is no "debtor in possession" concept, to my knowledge, for receiverships for banks and insurance companies.
___________

Who's bankrupt? As far as I can tell, AIG has a liquidity problem, not necessarily an assets < liabilities problem. Am I wrong?

From what I have read, they have zero net worth, and no one expects them to end up with net worth. The exposure on the default swaps vastly exceeds their assets.

I think the hope has been that the exposure on the credit default swaps will moderate over time as the values and performance of those securities improves. In theory, allowing it to fail immediately would probably create a worst case scenario -- having it collapse slowly probably minimizes the harm. There is probably some truth to this, but no one currently is willing to bet that AIG will come out of this with a net value. If so, the government could package it for a private investor group as part of a receivership, and those willing to make the bet would buy it. BofA basically did that with Merril Lynch (a private deal rather than government sponsored, but the same concept in principal). Whether BofA made a good bet remains to be seen.

From what I have read, the primary reason to back-stop AIG has been to minimize the effect of its sudden crash in this environment. It is the key jenga block in the entire web of systemic risk, and pulling it out last year very likely would have caused a massive crash. A huge number of other financial institutions around the world have large chunks of their net worth based on the fiction that AIG stands behind the value of the crap the counter-parties own. If it crashes, they must also write down their equity to current firesale prices. Putting off that day of reckoning by back-stopping AIG will hopefully allow the day of reckoning to be made in a more sane environment with more known about values.

You might recall hilzoy's recent post about what was in fact being realized on the mortgage derivatives as they are being liquidated -- it is a pathethic proportion of the principal. There is no good reason to believe that the performance on these things is going to dramatically improve over the next 12-24 months. Last year there was uncertainty, but much less so now. AIG is on the hook to the extent of that deficiency for all of that crap backed by AIG's CDS -- it is an astronomical number. 1 to 2 trillion I think are current estimates. No way can AIG make good on that.

It is time to abandon the back-stop strategy for a more formal liquidation process. Not doing so allows all sorts of abuse as the sharks bite off whatever they can from a collapsing AIG. Treasury is simply not set up to monitor all that is going on in AIG, and the other financial giants that make up the walking dead.

"Fraud is not an ex post facto crime."

Sure, but until someone is convicted of fraud, or at least charged with it, it doesn't seem relevant. Discussing crimes that are currently imaginary may be an interesting was to spend time, but I find life is short.

"...and let's talk about why instinctive subservience to those of infinite greed and arrogance is a terrible idea."

Who here, precisely, is engaging in "instinctive subservience"? By name, please.

publius: the UAW contract was renegotiated. I would have had no problem with the administration renegotiating AIG's contracts as a condition of a bailout, but Paulson didn't do that. As a result, we're contemplating the very different step of taking their money without their agreement.

The fact that retirees' pensions were also renegotiated is something I like a lot less -- but more because I think that pensions that a person has worked for should not be subject to renegotiation, period. I think: if you've worked for it, it should be yours, unless the company goes bankrupt, in which case I think pensioners should be way up there in the line of creditors.

In the same way, I think that there's a big legal difference between being as good as bankrupt and having filed for bankruptcy. It's not being as good as bankrupt that makes your previous debts void, etc. We decided not to let AIG go bankrupt. I think that was the right thing to do, though I have a lot of concerns about the details of how it was done. And that means that AIG's obligations are still binding on it, even though they wouldn't be in the hypothetical world in which we'd let it go bankrupt. We can override them, but we would be, well, overriding them, not acknowledging that they don't really exist, or aren't really binding.

fair enough -- this whole thing is just further evidence that there's no sum of money that could make me agree to be Treasury Secretary at the moment

We decided not to let AIG go bankrupt

And if the result of the current situation is that ludicrous bonuses contracted to incompetent employees who bankrupted their company can't be revoked, then next time the decision will be to let the company go bankrupt, even if that has severe consequences for the financial system.

We, the taxpayers, are not going to pay these bullsh*t bonuses. We just aren't. No way. This is a non-partisan issue.

What I want is a process for letting big companies get dealt with, one in which it is plain as day that contracts like this cease to be valid, that bondholders take haircuts, etc., etc. I want all of that settled, so that there will be no (or: minimal) need for improvisation next time, and so that all that can simply be priced in in advance, and claims of "ooh! unfair!" will be laughable.

What I want is a process for letting big companies get dealt with, one in which it is plain as day that contracts like this cease to be valid, that bondholders take haircuts, etc.

That used to be called bankruptcy, back when there were anti-monopolists in the government.

There is no painless way to let a company with monopoly power fail.

Yes. What, exactly, if this is legal, to stop the next Republican Congress from applying such taxes to Planned Parenthood, all clinics and doctors that do abortions, all leftist bookstores, a list of leftist writers and magazines and blog companies, and anyone else they think needs such a tax?

Well, if it is legal, what exactly stopped the Republican Congress from taxing all those things last year?

Institutions, like individuals, occasionally do crazy things in extreme circumstances. That doesn't mean those actions are going to become a habit. You haven't presented any evidence whatsoever to suggest that this behavior, which has occurred once in the entire history of our nation, is likely to recur in the future. Until you do, I see no reason to assume that it will.

Paging Martin Niemöller. Pastor Martin Niemöller to the white courtesy phone, please.

Um, are you seriously comparing a bunch of wealthy insurance execs who are having their bonuses taxed away to the Nazi's victims? I guess that makes sense insofar as both groups of people lost something due to actions by the state...as did everyone who has ever paid taxes.

Look, wealthy executives, as a class, wield tremendous power in our society. The government is not going to round them up in camps and start exterminating them. Since you couldn't have meant something so absurd, what exectly did you mean? Would you mind actually spelling out an argument rather than insinuating one?

Also, if you could answer the questions I asked you in my last comment, that might help too.

It's always a tiny unpopular minority that no one sympathizes with that, you know, no one cares about, and you can start doing such things to.

And that is why progressive taxation is wrong. Once you start taxing the wealthy more than other people, you go down the slippery slope to genocide. Right? Or did you mean something else?

Institutions, like individuals, occasionally do crazy things in extreme circumstances. That doesn't mean those actions are going to become a habit. You haven't presented any evidence whatsoever to suggest that this behavior, which has occurred once in the entire history of our nation, is likely to recur in the future. Until you do, I see no reason to assume that it will.

I see every reason to assume it will. Prop 8 occurred. So did the Japanese American internment. Both were expressions of popular will, just as this measure was. Now it happens that I think there is more justification to target the wealthy on this matter, but I mistrust any legal act that's done in the heat of the moment. And no mistake about it, this act was not particularly deliberated upon...

I see every reason to assume it will.

And what would those reasons be?

Prop 8 occurred.

Is it your contention that acceptance for gay marriage is not growing? And how does Prop 8 even fit: there was plenty of deliberation but the inexorable social and demographic trends favoring gay marriage hadn't quite reached the point needed to block it at the time of the vote. That's awful, but prop 8 was a pyrrhic victory for the anti-gay marriage forces at best. Another "victory" like that and they'll be lost forever.

So did the Japanese American internment.

And that's why we interned hundreds of thousands of Arab-Americans after 9/11. Right? Forced relocation of hundreds of thousands of people doesn't really seem comparable to seizing the bonuses of a few dozen wealthy executives. The interned lost a heck of a lot more in terms of freedom and fractions of their wealth than these guys will. This is a one time deal but the interned were imprisoned for years....I'm not seeing a lot of similarities here.

Again, I'll happily stipulate that this may be a real injustice. I just don't understand why it is rational to spend much time caring about this injustice compared to many other much larger injustices the government produces. I find it a little bit disturbing at how quickly fairly small scale injustices are denounced with such revolutionary fervor when they impact the wealthy while much larger injustices that impact millions of non-wealthy fail to generate a fraction of the outrage and overwrought breathless prose.

Both were expressions of popular will, just as this measure was. Now it happens that I think there is more justification to target the wealthy on this matter, but I mistrust any legal act that's done in the heat of the moment. And no mistake about it, this act was not particularly deliberated upon...

Indeed, if only Congress had spent as much time deliberating on this as it had for farm subsidies or tax breaks for the rich or war with Iraq....

From what I have read, they have zero net worth

Can you direct me to some of this reading, please?

and no one expects them to end up with net worth.

The way Liddy is talking, he expects to be able to repay the US government in full. How can you do that with zero (or less) net worth, I wonder?

"I'm with Gary on this. If the AIG bonus brigade can be publically shamed into giving some (which has already happened) or all of the money back, I think that is good. But having Congress try to take back that money by legislative fiat is horrifying."

Agreed.

Especially since GF -- unlike a single Democratic or Republican Congressmen that I am aware of -- quoted the Constitution.

Prop 8 occurred. So did the Japanese American internment.

Let's play a game of spot the difference between the two.

This game is boring me already. Euchre, anyone?

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Whatnot


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