BUSINESS
01/02/2013 11:35 am ET Updated Jan 23, 2014

AIG: 'Thank You America' For The Taxpayer-Funded Bailout!

AIG has one message for taxpayers: "Thank You America."

The world's largest insurance company has launched a new ad campaign that thanks Americans for their taxpayer-funded bailout during the global financial crisis, including a commercial with a litany of employees saying, "Thank you, America."

The commercial also seems to ask America to thank AIG. It notes that AIG repaid its taxpayer bailout with a $22.7 billion profit and that the company has helped America recover from some of its worst disasters, including Hurricane Sandy, the tornado in Joplin, Mo., and 9/11.

AIG needed a bailout in 2008 after it loaded up on credit default swaps on toxic mortgage-backed securities, leading to a credit-rating downgrade and a cash crunch.

"Thank you, America, for the freedom to ensure a brighter future," an AIG employee says in the commercial.

"Helping people recover and rebuild. That's what we do," an employee wearing an AIG hard hat says atop the new World Trade Center, where AIG is the lead insurer.

AIG declined to comment on the new campaign or how much money the company is spending on it. The insurer referred The Huffington Post to its press release.

TV commercials from AIG will air during NFL playoff games, morning shows, and primetime TV, and online ads from AIG will take over the homepages of The New York Times and Wall Street Journal, according to the company's release.

The AIG bailout ended in December, when the Treasury Department sold its last stake in AIG. The government touted its profit from the bailout, but ex-TARP watchdog Neil Barofsky has argued that the AIG bailout set a terrible precedent for the future by refusing to punish the risky behavior that helped lead to the financial crisis.

AIG has been in the news for awkward reasons lately. AIG sued the government in July, demanding tax money back from 1991. AIG executive Robert Gifford also rapped in 2010 about the pitfalls of getting bailed out, according to a video uncovered by Mother Jones in December: "I was hanging out all comfy, at my crib in bed. Now I have endless meetings with ... the Fed."

(Hat tip: The Washington Post's Wonkblog.)

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