President Barack Obama vowed to block multi-million-dollar bonus payouts by bailed-out insurer AIG as he confronted intensifying public anger against Wall Street excess.
The controversy escalated as New York state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo started to slap subpoenas on American International Group, after the crippled firm ignored to divulge details of the bonuses.
Conscious of the potential backlash as his administration readies new support for the financial industry, Obama said the planned bonuses for AIG executives and traders revealed over the weekend were an “outrage.”
“This is a corporation that finds itself in financial distress due to recklessness and greed,” he said, in a rare flash of public anger, at a White House event with owners of small businesses.
“Under these circumstances, it’s hard to understand how derivative traders at AIG warranted any bonuses, much less 165 million dollars in extra pay,” Obama said.
“How do they justify this outrage to the taxpayers who are keeping the company afloat?” he said, adding half in jest that “I’m choked up with anger here” as his voice caught at one point.