Hoyer: House AIG Bonus Bill Already Paying Off

Posted March 24, 2009 at 12:18pm

It may not matter that the Senate and White House aren’t endorsing House-passed legislation that would tax bonuses paid out by American International Group — since the bill is already having its intended effect, said House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) on Tuesday.

“The House bill had its effect. They’re giving it back,— Hoyer said, referring to the news that 15 of the 20 top AIG executives who took millions in bonuses have agreed to pay the money back.

Outrage swelled last week at the news of AIG executives taking $165 million in bonuses while their company leans on billions in federal aid. House Democratic leaders responded by rushing to pass legislation that imposes a 90 percent tax on bonuses taken by executives at firms that received more than $5 billion in federal bailout money.

The House bill does not appear on track to become law, however, given Senate delays and White House concerns about using the tax code to single out an individual company. Still, Hoyer said, the symbolism of the House passing the measure may have been enough.

“No executive or no company who is receiving help from the taxpayer ought to miss the anger that was reflected in the passage of that bill or the possibility of policies being adopted in reaction to such continued insensitivity to the concerns of taxpayers,— he said.

Hoyer hedged on whether he supported Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner’s request for more authority to save financial institutions like AIG. He said he wants to wait to see Geithner’s specific proposal to Congress and to have discussions with House Financial Services Chairman Barney Frank (D-Mass.) about whether granting the new authority is appropriate.

“We’re talking about huge sums of money, huge consequences for one individual,— said Hoyer. “I’m not prejudging the issue. I’m just saying, at this point in time, I want to look at it more carefully.—