Thursday, March 19, 2009

Obama on Leno

I saw President Obama's appearance on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.

Much of the conversation revolved around the bonuses given to AIG employees in the Financial Products Unit. President Obama insists he is stunned about them. Yet as has been revealed over the past couple of days these very bonuses were provided for in the Stimulus Package which last I checked he signed into law. So much for the buck stopping with the President.

While President Obama ceded that AIG had a legal argument concerning the bonuses there was also a moral and ethical component as well and that the government would do everything possible to get that money back because no one had been overseeing the process. Signing a bill you haven't read isn't exactly a profile in oversight. Either he is incompetent or he is lying.

Leno did ask an interesting question. Now that Congress is passing legislation that will tax these bonuses at 90% Leno asked what is to stop them from acting against in a similar manner against individual or group that has run afoul of them. Obama gave a non-answer speaking in cliches like we have to "close the door of the barn before the horses get out." Well, Mr. President, the horses are out of the barn and running the Kentucky Derby.

Obama said we cannot "lurch from thing to thing." Kind of like he's doing with health care, education and energy policy. Furthermore, he noted we were in the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression. But we don't have double digit unemployment, inflation or interest rates as we did in the late 1970s and early 1980s. However that could change. He said the economy was undergoing a "diagnostic test." Yes, it is printing money. Maybe not one trillion dollar bills a la Zimbabwe but we might soon carry our money in wheel barrels rather than wallets.

Getting back to the AIG bonuses he noted those contracts were written before he took office. They were also written before Edward Liddy became CEO of AIG yet he is being crucified for it while Obama wears a suit of teflon. (Yes, I am still employed with an AIG subsidiary.)

Of course, I take a very jaundiced view of the President. However, he was his usual jovial self and this appearance will probably result in a bump in his poll numbers which have been coming down of late.

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