Obamanomics Sparks Ire Across the Aisle

Photo: Obamas Outrage: President Wants Treasury to Block to AIG Bonuses

President Obama is facing growing liberal anger over his handling of the economy, with prominent voices on the left voicing concerns that taxpayer-funded bailouts are enriching corporate America while doing little to right the nation's economic ship.

The revelation over the weekend of massive bonuses being awarded to employees of AIG -- despite repeated federal bailouts engineered by the Obama and Bush administration -- is igniting fresh outrage among liberal lawmakers and bloggers.

null

Several prominent Democrats are pointing out that Obama aides were more than willing to press auto workers to renegotiate contracts as a condition of bailouts for car companies -- but are now citing the sanctity of contracts in AIG bonuses, saying they can't be canceled.

"People have no confidence in what's happening right now," Jane Hamsher, the founder of the liberal blog FireDogLake, said Monday on ABC NewsNOW's "Politics Live."

"People on the right and the left are looking at all this money being shoveled to banks [by] friends of Timothy Geithner and Larry Summers ... and they're not seeing any accountability," she added. "They don't know where the money's going, they don't know how much is gone, and it's all nontransparent and extremely suspicious."

Hamsher is organizing an online petition drive to press lawmakers to block further bank bailout funds. The Obama administration has signaled that it anticipates needing more funds to stabilize the nation's banking system.

A group of nearly 80 House Democrats took the unusual step of publicly sending a letter to Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner on Monday, calling on him to block AIG's bonus payments.

"These kinds of abuses of the public trust will only threaten any future efforts by President Obama's Administration to intervene in the financial markets," they wrote.

Allowing the payments to go through would leave the president in a difficult political spot.

"He's walking down a very, very dangerous path right now," liberal activist and author David Sirota told ABCNews.com. "It betrays the exact problem that people are angry at -- that there's one set of rules for Wall Street and Washington and another set of rules for everybody else."

"It's becoming real, what the difference is between Obama's rhetoric about power coming from outside of Washington, and the reality of an administration filled with Washington and Wall Street insiders," Sirota said.

Obama Lashes Out at AIG

The president sought to acknowledge the anger over AIG by voicing outrage of his own. Obama promised today to "pursue every single legal avenue to block these bonuses.

"Under these circumstances, it's hard to understand how derivative traders at AIG warranted any bonuses, much less $165 million in extra pay. Now, how do they justify this outrage to the taxpayers who are keeping the company afloat?" Obama said.

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has been working since last week to scale back or cancel the bonuses. But the fact that he failed to stop AIG from proceeding with the bonuses left some prominent Democrats frustrated.

Robert Reich, who was former President Clinton's labor secretary, called it a "scandal" that "Americans still have so little say over what is happening with our money."

Page
  • 1
  • |
  • 2
Join the Discussion
You are using an outdated version of Internet Explorer. Please click here to upgrade your browser in order to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
You Might Also Like...