The GOP is going after some four dozen vulnerable House Democrats in their home districts, hoping to connect their vote on the stimulus to AIG bonus payments recently made to executives. Meanwhile, Democrats are targeting House Republicans who have voted against limits on executive compensation.
The insurance giant, 80-percent-owned by taxpayers, has been engulfed by public rage at the announcement that it would dole out $165 million in bonuses to top executives.
The GOP attack relies on an effort in the Senate to insert language into the stimulus that would have heavily limited executive compensation at companies that took bailout funds, as AIG has.
The provision was stripped from the final package, though it remains a mystery just who yanked it out.
The GOP is asking Democrats whether they voted for the bill knowing it had the measure stripped or if they hadn't read the full package.
"The question is simple: Did Democrats in Congress ever actually read the bill or did they knowingly support a bill that handed out millions in taxpayer-funded bonuses to Wall Street executives?" asked Ken Spain, spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee.
The NRCC is hoping to tap into the collective outrage at the bonus payments. "Did [The Local Democratic Congressman] Knowingly Back AIG Bonus Package?" asks the releases sent to the more than 45 vulnerable Democrats across the country.
The congressional representative in question, argues the GOP, "needs to explain to his constituents what he knew, when he knew it and if he helped to keep AIG bonus information quiet."
"For years, President Bush and Washington Republicans led the charge to block any effort to limit the outrageous salaries and bonuses of corporate executives," said Jennifer Crider, spokesperson with the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
The DCCC is going after nearly 30 GOP House members in their home districts for voting to oppose caps on executive compensation. "When [the local GOP representative] had the chance, he voted to allow outrageous pay and bonuses, like those for AIG executives, to continue," said Crider.