Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) is outraged that executives at the government-seized mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will receive a combined $12.8 million in bonuses after meeting only “modest goals.” He even held a press conference this week demanding the bonuses be undone. And last night, Barrasso told Fox News that it’s “absolutely wrong” and almost un-American for the bailed out firms to be handing out such large bonuses. Watch it:
Democratic lawmakers have been rightly upset by the bonuses as well, with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) saying yesterday that they induced his “gag reflex.” But while it’s welcome to see a Republican senator care about excessive executive compensation, especially at a bailed out firm, where was Barrasso when this happened back in 2009?
Back then, President Obama wanted to cap executive compensation at banks bailed out by taxpayers, but “Republicans hate[d] the idea.” “[I]s this still America? Do we really tell people how to run [a business], and who to pay and how much to pay?” Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) asked at the time. Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) explained, “I really don’t want the government to take over these businesses and start telling them everything about what they can do.”
Had Barrasso broken with his party at the time to take a stance similar to the one he is now espousing, he could have helped tip the political balance in favor of reigning in executive compensation at bailed out firms, whether they be banks or Fannie and Freddie.