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Rep. Elijah Cummings Headshot

A Bonus by Any Other Name Still Stinks

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I am beginning to understand why companies like AIG are so committed to spending hundreds of millions of dollars on sports sponsorships. It's because they like playing games. Since it seems that the executives at these companies did not get the memo, I am here to tell them that the fun and games are over.

I was shocked upon learning -- just one day after being told that top AIG executives would be forgoing bonuses this year -- that the company's executives will be receiving 'cash awards' as 'retention payments.' AIG can dress this money up in fancy names, but no one is fooled. A bonus by any other name still stinks.

When Mr. Liddy was appointed to try to steer AIG back on track, he was expected to be a good steward of taxpayer dollars, spending this money as effectively and efficiently as possible. Instead, he has continually chosen to reward failure and mislead the American people in the process. Now, it is time for Mr. Liddy to reward the taxpayers who are funding his company's wasteful spending by submitting his resignation.

AIG just doesn't seem to get it. These executives' bonuses are that they still have a job. If that job is not enough for them, there are hundreds of thousands of other Americans seeking employment who would be more than happy to take their place.

I welcome and encourage the CEO's of every company begging for taxpayer dollars to come spend a day in my district and meet the people whose hard-earned wages they have been throwing into the wind--the families who have lost their homes, the single mother who lost her job and isn't sure how she will pay her bills, and the young people who dream about going to college but just cannot afford it. Perhaps this dose of reality would drill in the message that it cannot be business as usual on Wall Street. Perhaps then Mr. Liddy would understand why the time has come for him to step down.

It is becoming increasingly apparent that the companies begging us for life support cannot manage the simple task of sound judgment when it comes to fiscal matters. The profligate spending must come to an end. If these companies cannot stop inappropriately spending taxpayer dollars, I will have no problem working with Speaker Pelosi and President-elect Obama next year to enact the legislation that will do it for them.

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