Senators In Glass Rotundas
Senators in glass rotundas should think twice before throwing slurs.
Sen. Claire McCaskill (D.-Mo.) unleashed a tirade against Wall Street executives on the Senate floor last week, saying "we have a bunch of idiots on Wall Street that are kicking sand in the face of the American taxpayer." McCaskill delivered her outburst while introducing a bill called the Cap Executive Officer Pay Act that would limit the salary, bonuses and stock options of executives at financial companies getting federal bailout aid to no more than what the U.S. president earns: $400,000 a year, excluding benefits.
President Obama and Secretary Timothy Geithner on Wednesday announced a separate plan to limit pay to $500,000 a year for executives of government-assisted financial institutions. Banks that receive capital infusions, but are considered healthy, could waive the salary cap under the President's plan.
McCaskill took executives at Merrill Lynch directly to task, lambasting their decision to distribute billions in bonuses to employees just ahead of the brokerage's sale to Bank of America (Stock Quote: BAC) on January 1. She also excoriated Citigroup (Stock Quote: C), for even thinking about taking delivery of a $42 million corporate jet.
Citigroup ended up backing out of the purchase yet is still on the hook for $45 billion from the government's Troubled Asset Relief Program. Bank of America has taken $25 billion in TARP funds.
"Is that so unreasonable?" the Missouri Democrat asked in reference to her plan to cap executive pay. "It's eight times the median household income in the United States of America. ... I don't think that sounds like a bad deal."
No, $400,000 a year doesn't sound like a bad deal to most people, Senator. Then again, neither does the $174,000 a year plus benefits members of Congress will pocket in 2009, up 2.7% from last year and 5.3% since 2007.
That's quite a nice pay raise from the checkbook of We the People, especially when only 20% of Americans said in January they approve of the way Congress is handling its job, down from already-low averages of 27% in 2007 and 25% in 2006, according to Gallup.
And while we here at the 5 Dumbest Lab
generally agree with your negative characterizations of Wall Street's elite - heck, we rip these morons every week - we have also witnessed copious amounts of idiocy from Capitol Hill.
Where were you when the banking system was blowing up? What kind of oversight did you provide to keep Bernie Madoff from stealing billions? And, as to our spiraling national debt, need we remind you who controls the power of the purse?
You got your raise, Senator. Now earn it.
Dumb-o-meter score: 85 -- Time to stop the grandstanding and do some real work.