Thursday, March 19, 2009

GOP message on AIG lacking

The Republicans still don't have their message operations together. Decide to do the right thing, then sell it.

House Min. Whip Eric Cantor was on Morning Joe today (among other shows) and let Larry O'Donnell beat him over the head for not promising to vote along with Democrats to go after AIG bonuses.

Taking these bonuses back probably amounts to a bill of attainder, prohibited by the Constitution, which is why a number of Republicans are reluctant to support such a bill even if they believe the SCOTUS would strike it down. (aside: Weren't we promised that more of McCain-Feingold would be struck down? Relying on the court to do the right thing is not a sound strategy.)

If it does not technically amount to a bill of attainder, then the whole idea of barring bills of attainder is a dead letter, easily circumvented by carefully chosen statutory language.

But Cantor promised he would do all he could to get the bonuses back without committing to the Democratic bill. The deplorable O'Donnell sarcastically asked whether Cantor was just planning on asking for the money... which sounds to me all the further Cantor was willing to go.

The Republicans ended up with the worst part of both sides of this issue. They can't articulate a good reason to vote against the Democratic bill, but neither can they support it.

The solution, to the extent that anybody cares, is to put out the idea that it's unconstitutional and BLAME THE DEMOCRATS for not solving the problem... whether it was the Dodd amendment, or the fact that the Dodd amendment was in the massive stimulus bill that nobody got to read, they need to really put the Democrats on the defensive on this for having put the country in an impossible situtation.


thullcat said...

It wasn't O'Donnell who was deplorable this morning. It was do-nothing know-nothing Cantor who got spanked big time. Cantor looked like a deer in the headlights. THIS is the up and comer in the Republican party? Pleeeeease.

Sockless Joe said...

My comment about O'Donnell being deplorable is a general statement about his character, and a plain ad hominem attack I feel he deserves. He's on my list of people to never take seriously.

Cantor being stumped this morning was pretty much the impetus for my post.

Samay said...

It's not a bill of attainder because the Federal Government is a majority shareholder in AIG, and the payments are defined as a "bonus" not as salary. Therefore the return of the bonuses would be a direction from Congress to the Treasury to act in its capacity as shareholder to get the bonuses returned.

Also, restructuring of contracts is permitted and done every day, e.g. bankruptcy and the destruction of the auto workers' pensions.

JoeCollins said...

except that the bonuses have already been paid.

The stim bill did cancel bonuses for those contracted after a certain date. I think we're on the same page re. changing contracts... bankruptcy would be the normal way to do that, but AIG is in a funky non-bankruptcy bankruptcy.

Government is clearly acting as more than just a shareholder... no normal shareholders could recall bonuses already paid.