By Rachel Lippmann, KWMU
St. Louis, MO – Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill has launched an effort to restrict the salaries at private companies that accept federal bailout dollars.
A report released Wednesday by the New York state comptroller showed financial companies paid out $18.4 billion in bonuses last year despite huge losses. Many had taken federal money, and the comptroller could not determine if taxpayer dollars help fund the bonuses.
Most egregious, McCaskill said, was Merrill Lynch's decision to pay out bonuses typically awarded in January a month early, right before the company was taken over by Bank of America.
"These people are idiots," McCaskill said in a floor speech. "Going forward, you want taxpayers to help you survive? You want the people at your financial institution to have a job tomorrow? Then you're going have to limit everyone's pay at your company to the same salary that the president of the United States makes."
Under current federal law, that would amount to $400,000 a year, including bonuses and stock options. The pay limits would last until all federal loans are paid back.