WASHINGTON — Nevada lawmakers joined the chorus of outrage over the bonuses paid to AIG executives.
Along with 93 other House members, Democrat Rep. Dina Titus signed a letter urging Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner to “stop coddling AIG,” and for the Justice Department to suspend the bonuses.
At the same time, Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., co-sponsored a bill that would impose a steep tax on individuals who receive bonuses of more than $100,000 from companies receiving federal bailouts.
Berkley and Rep. Dean Heller, R-Nev., sit on the House Ways and Means Committee that was charged by Democratic leaders with forming legislation in the coming days to “recoup misspent public dollars” from companies that have received federal bailouts.
Likewise, Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., said Democrats in the Senate will seek to seize the bonuses through a bill to be introduced Wednesday . It would subject the bonuses to taxes of more than 90 percent.
“AIG’s attitude represents everything that’s wrong with Wall Street,” said Reid, the Senate majority leader. “Greed and perhaps even corruption.”
Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., said it was appropriate for Congress to seek return of the bonuses that were paid, but he said he did not know whether doing it through taxation was the right way.
Ensign rejected the argument that the bonuses are necessary to retain AIG employees who could unravel complex transactions and fix the company’s problems.
Retention bonuses are unnecessary because Wall Street workers don’t have many other job options right now, he said.
“Retention bonuses?” Ensign said. “Where else are they going to go right now? Anybody who has a job right now ought to be thankful they have a job.”
Contact Stephens Washington Bureau Chief Steve Tetreault at email@example.com or 202-783-1760.