You can't turn on the news without seeing some Congressional Republican trying to get face time by jumping on the AIG outrage bandwagon. The problem with many of the Republican leadership in Congress is that they held the exact opposite view only a short time ago. Last month when Congress was debating executive pay, key members of the Republican leadership were totally against capping such payments.
At the time that capping these kinds of payments was being considered, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) protested such caps saying, "I really don't want the government to take over these businesses and start telling them everything about what they can do." That seemed to be the Republican talking point on the subject as Senate Banking Committee ranking member Richard Shelby said, "It should be up to the board of directors of a private corporation to set the compensation of an executive; it shouldn't be Congress's role."
Those two are certainly not alone:
- Representative Eric Cantor (R-VA) says that he feels "outraged" about the AIG bonuses, but he opposed salary caps back in September.
- Senator Kit Bond (R-MO) now says that it is "unacceptable" to pay the AIG bonuses but in early February he said that the worst thing that could be done is "to tell business how to run themselves."
- Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) is complaining about shoveling money out the door "with no strings attached" but just last month he got all sanctimonious saying, "I thought, is this still America? Do we really tell people how to run [a business], and who to pay and how much to pay?"
Not to be left out, the Republican Party of Wisconsin is now trying to channel their inner-populist, attempting to desperately leverage it any way that they can. Rather than issuing over-reaching press releases, maybe they should first figure out the correct talking point from Republican leadership in Congress. Given their conflicting statements, it could prove to be a near impossible task.