Geithner Admits White House Pushed for Bonus Loophole

Posted March 19, 2009 at 4:01pm

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner on Thursday afternoon backed up Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Chairman Chris Dodd’s (D-Conn.) story that it was in fact the White House that pushed to include a loophole in the $787 billion economic stimulus bill to protect executive compensation bonuses.

In an interview with CNN, Geithner said it was he who asked Senate Democratic leaders to include the provision in last month’s stimulus package. The public has reacted with outrage in recent days — and Congress has followed — upon learning that hundreds of millions of dollars out of the billions taxpayers paid to rescue American International Group went to pay employment-retention bonuses.

Geithner told CNN that he asked Dodd to include the loophole to protect the federal government from lawsuits, as AIG was contractually required to pay out the bonuses. Other companies that have received taxpayer-funded bailouts have also paid out compensation to employees.

Dodd on Wednesday acknowledged that he inserted the bonus loophole into the stimulus legislation, but said he was against the move and only did so only after being pressed by the Obama administration.