Poor Little Rich Kids: Wall Street Elites Whine About Obama's Pay Caps
Today, President Obama announced that top executives' pay at companies accepting TARP funds would be capped at $500,000, with any additional compensation coming only in the form of stock options that could not be cashed until the government had been repaid.
As news of the plan leaked last night, wealthy Wall Street went into panic mode, insisting that the caps would ruin the financial industry. It's "a nightmare for any financial institution," CNBC host Joe Kernen proclaimed this morning, while Fox Business host Alexis Glick said it was evidence of Obama being "a little anti-business." Others insisted that the "draconian" caps would drive the "best and the brightest" away from Wall Street and that Obama's anger over executive bonuses was misplaced:
"That is pretty draconian -- $500,000 is not a lot of money, particularly if there is no bonus." [James F. Reda, founder and managing director of James F. Reda & Associates]
"If I didn't pay [bonuses], the people were going to go. ... These people didn't choose to cure cancer. These people didn't choose to do public service work...These people chose to make money." [Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric]
"The consequences of it are going to be a massive brain drain of senior talent from those companies that have taken TARP money to those companies that have not." [Donald Straszheim, managing principal at Straszheim Global Advisor]
"Companies that need the most talented people to fix their problems won't be able to pay them." [Jamie Dimon, JPMorgan Chase & Co. Chief Executive Officer]
Announcing the plan today, Obama emphasized that the key to bolstering the financial system was restoring trust. "And in order to restore trust, we've got to make certain that taxpayer funds are not subsidizing excessive compensation packages on Wall Street," he said. Making it clear that he doesn't "disparage wealth," Obama emphasized that outlandish executive pay was both in bad taste and bad strategy: