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(2009-03-19 09:54:58)




分类: 读新闻(ForEnglishStudy)

Livid Democrats demand AIG return bailout bonuses - Associated Press


WASHINGTON – Talking tougher by the hour, livid Democrats confronted beleaguered insurance giant AIG with an ultimatum Tuesday(愤怒的民主党人周二对饱受批评的保险巨头AIG下了最后通牒): Give back $165 million in post-bailout bonuses or watch Congress tax it away with emergency legislation. Republicans declared the Democrats were hardly blameless, accusing them of standing by(指责民众鼓荡袖手旁观) while the bonus deal was cemented and suggesting that Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner could and should have done more. While the White House expressed confidence in Geithner, it was clearly placing the responsibility for how the matter was handled on his shoulders(当白宫表示对Geithner有信心时,也明确地将处理这一事件的责任放到了他的肩上).

Geithner sent a letter late Tuesday to congressional leaders informing them that he was working with the Justice Department to determine whether any of the AIG payments could be recovered. He cited a provision in the recent economic stimulus law that gave him authority to review compensation to the highest-paid employees of companies that already have received federal assistance.


Fresh details, meanwhile, pushed outrage over AIG ever higher: New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo reported that 73 company employees received bonus checks of $1 million or more last Friday. This at a company that was failing so spectacularly that the government felt the need to prop it up with a $170 billion bailout.

与此同时,新的细节使对AIG的愤怒情绪更加高涨:纽约首席检察官Andrew Cuomo报告73名公司职员在上周五拿到了一百万或更高数额的奖金支票。而这是发生在一家如此众所周知摇摇欲坠以致政府认为有必要用一千七百亿美元紧急援助来资助的公司。

The financial bailout program remains politically unpopular and has been a drag on Barack Obama's new presidency, even though the plan began under his predecessor, George W. Bush. The White House is well aware of the nation's bailout fatigue — anger that hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars have gone to prop up financial institutions that made poor decisions, while many others who have done no wrong pay the price.

经济救援在政治上始终不得人心,并成为Obama总统任期的一个累赘,虽然这项计划在他的前任George W. Bush时就开始了。白宫很清楚民众对救援计划的反感 — 上千亿纳税人的钱被用于资助那些做不好决定的金融机构,而那些并没有过错的人却要为之承担代价。

White House officials, for the first time, on Tuesday night said Geithner told the White House about the bonus payments last Thursday, and senior aides informed the president later that day. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal details of the timeline involving AIG.


The administration wouldn't be pleased to hear what Maria Panza-Villa, of Hillsboro, Ore., had to say. "Wasn't Obama supposed to fix this?" asked the mother of two who said she has lost three jobs since November as one employer after another went under.

当局听到俄勒冈州Hillsboro的Maria Panza-Villa的话时肯定不会高兴。这位两个孩子的妈妈从十一月以来已经连续失去了三份工作,她问:“Obama不就是来解决这些问题的吗?”

AIG chief executive Edward Liddy can expect a verbal pummeling Wednesday when he testifies before a House subcommittee.

AIG总裁Edward Liddy可以预期当他周三在议院小组委员会前做陈述时将遭受猛烈抨击。

On Capitol Hill late Tuesday, House Democrats directed three powerful committees to come up with legislation this week to authorize Attorney General Eric Holder to recover massive bonus payments made by companies like the ones paid last week by American International Group Inc.

在国会,周二晚些时候,民主党议院指导三个强势的委员会这周制定法规,授权首席检察官Eric Holder撤回由公司作出的类似上周美国国际集团AIG的大额奖金支出。

Senate Democrats, meanwhile, suggested that if the AIG executives had any integrity, they would return the $165 million in bonus money. One leading Republican, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, even suggested they might honorably kill themselves, then said he didn't really mean it.

与此同时,民主党参议院建议,如果AIG的执行官们还有一点良知,他们就应该归还一亿六千五百万奖金支出。一位主要的共和党人,R-Iowa的参议员Chuck Grassley甚至建议他们应该体面地自杀,随后说他并不是真的让他们这么做。

Whatever the process, lawmakers of all stripes said, the money — generally "retention payments" to keep prized employees — belongs back in the government's hands.

无论过程如何,各派立法者都认为,这些钱 — 用于留住有价值员工的“保持薪酬” — 应回到政府的手中。

"Recipients of these bonuses will not be able to keep all of their money," declared Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in an unusually strong threat delivered on the Senate floor.

“拿到这些奖金的人将不能全部保住这些钱,”参议院多数党领袖Harry Reid以不同寻常的强硬威胁口气说。

"If you don't return it on your own, we will do it for you," echoed Chuck Schumer of New York.

“如果你不自己还回来,我们会让你还,”纽约的Chuck Schumer附和。

Not all Democratic leaders were racing in that direction. Penalizing people with the tax code could be inappropriate, declared Rep. Charlie Rangel, D-N.Y., chairman of the taxwriting Ways and Means Committee. He said, "It's difficult for me to think of the code as a political weapon."

不是所有的民主党领袖都是同样的立场。惩罚人们的免税收入是不恰当的,财政立法委员会主席,新泽西州民主党代表Charlie Rangel宣称。他说,“我很难把这些(免税)代码当成政治武器。”

Others saw the connection as reasonable and relevant. House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank, D-Mass., noted that the government, through the bailout, is now an 80 percent owner of the company and suggested that was grounds to sue to recover the bonuses.

其他人认为这种(税收与政治武器)联系是合理且相关的。议院财政服务委员会主席,马萨诸塞州的民主党Barney Frank指出,通过紧急援助,政府已经成为公司80%的持有者,并且说,这就给了政府诉求撤回奖金


Republicans said Obama and his administration should have leaned harder on AIG executives to reject the extra pay, raising some speculation over Geithner's future.


"I don't know if he should resign over this," said Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala. "He works for the president of the United States. But I can tell you, this is just another example of where he seems to be out of the loop. Treasury should have let the American people know about this."

“我不知道他是否应该因此事辞职,”参议员Richard Shelby说。“他为美国总统工作。但我相信,这只是他不在圈子里的另一个例子。财政部应该让美国人民知道这一点。”

The administration quickly moved to quash talk of Geithner's ouster. White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Obama retains full confidence in his treasury secretary.

当局迅速澄清关于Geithner可能被罢免的言论。白宫发言人Robert Gibbs说Obama对他的财政部长保持全部信任。

And White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel categorically dismissed to The Associated Press any suggestion that Geithner is in trouble.

而白宫参谋长Rahm Emanuel对美联社明确否认了关于Geithner处境危险的猜测。

On Capitol Hill, there was a daylong rush to the microphones — a bipartisan campaign to out-outrage each other.

在国会,麦克风终日忙碌 — 两党竞相指责对方。

Grassley led the stampede with a statement Monday night on a radio show that AIG executives should either return the money or commit suicide in what he described as the Japanese style of taking responsibility. He spent much of Tuesday backtracking but still calling for corporate titans to take responsibility for grievous errors in judgment.


Other Republicans said Democratic leaders last month killed a plan that would have forced financial institutions to compensate taxpayers if they paid their executives large bonuses after receiving federal bailout money.


Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, a co-sponsor of the amendment to Obama's stimulus bill, said striking it "left open an escape hatch(安全舱口) of golden parachutes(金降落伞) for top executives on Wall Street."

缅因州共和党参议员Olympia Snowe,他是Obama刺激计划修正案的共同负责人,说取消该计划“为华尔街的高管们提供了高额离职补偿的安全接口。”
AIG has received more than $170 billion from U.S. taxpayers. With bailouts in hand, AIG has paid out tens of billions of dollars to banks, municipal governments and other financial institutions around the world.


AIG is no stranger to controversy, nor is it the only publicly rescued company to give bonuses while being bailed out of financial ruin.


Merrill Lynch paid $3.6 billion in bonuses to its executives while its sale to Bank of America Corp., a big recipient of bailout money, was pending.

Merrill Lynch说在售给美国银行,援助金的另一大接收者的同时,还有36亿美元的高管奖金在制定中。

Morgan Stanley also came under fire Tuesday. Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., urged Geithner to halt retention awards planned by the company's joint brokerage venture with Citigroup. Both firms have received billions of dollars in government bailout funds. Morgan Stanley is reportedly planning to pay its brokers up to $3 billion in retention payments — a spokeswoman said the program amounts to a nine-year loan — to keep them from jumping to other firms.

摩根斯坦利在周二也受到了攻击。新泽西州民主党参议员Robert Menendez敦促Geithner叫停由该公司与Citigroup的联合经纪业企业计划的保留薪酬。这两个公司都接受了数十亿美元的政府援助基金。摩根斯坦利被曝计划向其经纪人支付总额高达三十亿美元的保留薪酬 — 一位发言人称这个项目意味着九年贷款 — 来留着这些人不跳槽到其他公司。

Cuomo said AIG last week paid bonuses of $1 million or more to 73 employees, including 11 who no longer work there. Despite their company contracts, the AIG employees agreed to take 2009 salaries of $1 in exchange for receiving their bonus packages, he said.


Administration officials said Geithner did all that he legally could to avert the payments.


Geithner urged AIG's Liddy last week to renegotiate the contracts that called for the bonuses.


"He recognized that you can't just abrogate contracts willy-nilly, but he moved to do what could be done," Larry Summers, Obama's chief economic adviser, told the AP in an interview Tuesday.

“他知道你不能被迫取消合同,但他做了应该做的事情,”Obama的首席经济顾问Larry Summers在周二的一次访谈中告诉美联社。

In his letter to congressional leaders, Geithner said that any bonus payments that Treasury cannot recoup will be recovered by requiring AIG to repay the Treasury an amount equal to the remaining bonuses. He said Treasury also will deduct an amount equal to the payments from AIG's latest $30 billion credit line from the government.


Though AIG's bonus plans were disclosed last year, Congress' outrage and threats have begun pouring forth only recently.


At least three Democratic bills and one Republican measure were introduced to crack down on the Treasury Department and stiffen rules for recipients of bailout funds. Two bills in the House aimed to impose a 100 percent tax on the bonuses.


In the Senate, the top two members of the Senate Finance Committee — a Republican and Democrat — announced a proposal to impose a 35 percent excise tax on the companies paying the bonuses and a 35 percent excise tax on the employees receiving them.

在参议院,参议院财政委员会的两名最高成员 — 一名共和党和一名民主党议员 — 宣布了一项提议向支付奖金的公司和接受奖金的雇员各征收35%的特许权税。

The Internal Revenue Service currently withholds 25 percent from bonuses less than $1 million and 35 percent for bonuses more than $1 million.


The Obama administration said it was trying to put strict limits on how future government bailout dollars could be used, and Reid on Tuesday said he urged the administration to step up its pace on that.





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