Wednesday, March 18, 2009

CORRECTED: March 18: Paulson, Bush Should Get Blame On AIG Bonuses - And Where Was the Media?

(Note: This column has been updated to include Congress' participation.)

By Sylvia Gurinsky

Why is new Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner getting the blame over the bonuses given to AIG executives? He didn't negotiate the deal.

His predecessor, Henry Paulson did. And Paulson's boss, President George W. Bush, signed off on it. So did Congress.

The AIG bailout deal was approved last fall, in the middle of the presidential campaign and the general collapse of the economy. Somehow, the fine print over the bonuses given to AIG executives didn't get out until a few days ago.

Perhaps CNBC missed that fine print while their commentators were shouting. And where was the rest of the business media, at least the part that wasn't being laid off or bought out? Even the stellar "Frontline" documentary a few weeks ago on the economic collapse didn't mention the details of the AIG bailout.

But the person who has the most to explain is Paulson. In the middle of its collective teeth-gnashing, Congress needs to call Paulson and tell him to come clean on what he did with AIG and why he did it - and come clean about their own actions. Meanwhile, Geithner deserves to be let out of the doghouse.

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