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Barry Showcases His Ignorance


President Obama is reportedly outraged to learn that financial executives were actually paid the bonuses owed them in 2008:

President Obama fired a warning shot at Wall Street on Thursday, branding bankers “shameful” for giving themselves $18.4 billion in bonuses as the economy was spinning out of control and the government was spending billions to bail out many of the nation’s most prominent financial firms.

Speaking from the Oval Office with Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner by his side, Mr. Obama lashed out at the industry over a report, compiled by the New York State comptroller, Thomas P. DiNapoli, which found that over all, financial executives received the same level of bonuses as they had in 2004, when times were more flush.

Hold on there, Barry. For most of 2008 times were quite flush. Share prices were down a bit off 2007 highs, but the so-called meltdown happened in October. That’s the fourth calendar quarter, and likely for many firms, the first quarter of fiscal 2009. If you had any experience in business, you might better appreciate such differences in timing.

Executives are generally evaluated quarterly, and their bonuses paid quarterly or semi-annually. Those bonuses were mostly earned and paid months before you, as junior Senator, voted to hand them $700 billion dollars of someone else’s wealth. You foolishly or naïvely portray events as if the execs waited until December 31st, 2008, to walk out of their offices burdened by heavy sacks of cash.

It was a pointed and unusual flash of anger — if a premeditated one — from the president, and it suggested that he intended to use his platform to take a hard line against excesses in executive compensation.

“That is the height of irresponsibility,” Mr. Obama said angrily. “It is shameful, and part of what we’re going to need is for folks on Wall Street who are asking for help to show some restraint and show some discipline and show some sense of responsibility.

But, Barry, you’re urging Congress to confiscate another $900 billion of someone else’s wealth, on top of the $850 billion alreay wasted on TARP. Those executives are showing tremendous restraint compared to you and Congress.

“The American people understand that we’ve got a big hole that we’ve got to dig ourselves out of, but they don’t like the idea that people are digging a bigger hole even as they’re being asked to fill it up,” Mr. Obama said, adding that “there will be time for them to make profits and there will be time for them to make bonuses. Now is not that time.”

If you wanted to decide the timing and size of bonus payments, you should have started your own company, Mr. President. The rhetoric of class warfare is not hopeful, and sadly, not change either. I would be interested, however, in a clear statement of how you might determine exactly when free people should be permitted to collect what they earn.

That might be something to consider while you flitter about in the world’s most expensive corporate jet. You know, Barry, the one you get to use not because of any record of accomplishment, but because you won a popularity contest. Further, as you scold those who make things for stimulating the aircraft industry, remember they paid for theirs out of profit. Yours is a deadweight loss to the American people.