Tuesday, March 24, 2009
There is little that boosts the level of a president’s leadership hormone like a politically tough but principled veto.
This is one good reason for President Obama to stop straddling and threaten to veto whatever cockamamie tax scheme eventually emerges from Congress as retribution for the repulsive bonuses handed out at American International Group.
Since the firestorm over the bonuses began burning up the airwaves, Obama has managed to take all sides of the issue. He did it again on CBS’ “60 Minutes” Sunday, saying: “As a general proposition, I think you certainly don’t want to use the tax code to punish people.” On the other hand, in the case of AIG, Obama wants to “see if there are ways of doing this that are both legal, that are constitutional—that uphold our basic principles of fairness, but don’t hamper us from getting the banking system back on track.”
Got that? I didn’t think so.
So many of Obama’s economic advisers sent such mixed signals about the tax-back of bonuses on the Sunday news shows that it’s a wonder screens across America didn’t turn fuzzy. This, as the administration is rolling out (for the second time) its bank rescue plan—which happens to count on the kindness of the same sort of high-roller rascals who like big bonuses—to help remove bad assets from bank balance sheets.
The administration itself midwifed the ugly AIG bonus baby when it demanded a watered-down version of executive pay limits that had started out tougher in the Senate version of the president’s giant stimulus bill. This is the loophole through which the AIG bonuses slithered with ease....(Click for remainder).