Diligence on the bailout

Posted: Sunday, March 28, 2010

Probably missed last week amid news coverage on passage of the health care bill was a quick story about the federal pay czar's pay cuts for corporate leaders.

That's right. Kenneth Feinberg ordered a 15-percent pay cut this year for the top earners at five large companies still living on federal bailout money -- our tax money.

They are the American International Group, GMAC Financial Services, Chrysler Financial, Chrysler and General Motors.

Remember that argument last year from these behemoths about how their "top talent" would leave if they weren't getting the big salaries? Turns out that wasn't a big concern. According to Feinberg's review, 84 percent of the top executives in those five companies haven't gone anywhere, despite last year's salary reduction.

Granted, most of us wouldn't think of 15 percent coming off $1 million salaries as a significant amount. Indeed, compared to the $700 billion (yes, Billion) bailout from we taxpayers, 15 percent is barely noticeable. We can't help but believe the cuts could've been deeper with no effect whatsoever on these executives' employment status.

Indeed, some have argued exactly that, and Feinberg finds himself routinely second-guessed as he administers pay guidelines for those companies who have yet to pay back the government bailout.

But amid all the headlines and punditry and cacophony surrounding the health care issue last week, it was somewhat heartening to see this little headline that showed a government bureaucrat still diligently doing the job he was tasked with -- on behalf of the American people.

Thank goodness it hasn't been forgotten -- and that it still produces a national headline every once in awhile.

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