'This Week' Transcript: Bonuses, Bailouts and Budgets

That said, let's see what comes out of the Senate. He has not said he won't sign this bill. Let's see what comes out of the Senate. Let's see what gets to his desk.

PENCE: Well, George, it's important to remember here that -- and the president said this on the White House lawn this week -- I was really struck by the fact, the president said, well, the problem here is that people are making this kind of money to begin with.

You know, it was back in 2007 that Barney Frank authored a bill that capped executive compensation across the board, well before any bailouts, well before any crisis on Wall Street. And I believe that then-Senator Barack Obama had the companion legislation in the Senate. And now we read this morning that the administration's talking about broad-based caps on compensation.

The answer here is to focus on AIG. What House Republicans proposed was that we ought to say to AIG, "No more bailout money until you go and collect back 100 percent of the bonuses that you've distributed."

STEPHANOPOULOS: Does everybody else at the table agree with that proposal?

BERNSTEIN: I don't. No, I -- I don't. I don't -- in the following sense. You can't -- you said it yourself, George, a second ago. There's something called resolution authority. That's a -- a very complicated way of saying the FDIC can come in and take a bank into bankruptcy. We know how to do it. We've done it.

What we don't have at this point is the legal authority to do the kinds of interventions that Representative Pence -- we need those. We're talking about those. We need to have those moving forward.

But the idea of going back and kind of clawing back contracts that were legitimately made, that is something we need to consider.

(CROSSTALK)

PENCE: ... something about clawing back. We own 80 percent of AIG. I didn't support the Wall Street bailout, still don't. But we essentially nationalized AIG. And all these legal niceties notwithstanding, you know, it's -- quite frankly, it's anti- competitive and anti-free market for the Congress of the United States to be passing legislation that targets, or to use Charlie Rangel's statement earlier in the week, that uses the internal revenue code as a political weapon.

STEPHANOPOULOS: How about you, Senator Conrad? Do you agree that -- no new money to AIG unless they give back this -- these bonuses through some -- in some fashion?

CONRAD: Look, to me, unfortunately, the cat's out of the barn, the horse is out of the barn. You've already put up $170 billion. So, you know, frankly, I would take a different tack.

I would call the head of AIG to the Treasury and I would say to him, "Look, you call in those employees and you tell them they give back the money or they're out of a job." And the head of AIG has absolutely got that authority. He's the head of the company, and we own...

(CROSSTALK)

STEPHANOPOULOS: And several of them have already given back. Several -- several employees have already given back some of the bonuses. We're going to learn more...

(CROSSTALK) CONRAD: Yes, I understand some have, but many have not. And you really have to ask yourself, what is in their head? What can they possibly be thinking of that they're collecting bonuses in a midst of a crisis like this? I mean, shame on them.

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