The AIG bonus mess has more or less settled the argument over whether the $800-billion stimulus plan was rushed. It’s safe to say it was.
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., said as much this week in what CNN called a “stunning admission”:
“Frankly it was such a rush – we’re talking about the stimulus bill now – to get it passed, I didn’t have time and other conferees didn’t have time to address many of the provisions that were modified significantly,” said Baucus.
Baucus is by no means the only lawmaker who failed to digest all the provisions in the massive legislation. Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd, D-Conn., has argued that he didn’t insert an exemption clause for AIG in the stimulus bill and he doesn’t know who did. From CNN:
The mystery isn’t just how what was effectively a protection for AIG was put into the stimulus bill – it’s also how a provision intended to prevent AIG from giving executive bonuses, was taken out.
Just last month, Sen. Jon Tester and Congressman Denny Rehberg traveled to the Flathead following their stimulus votes to defend their positions. Rehberg, a Republican who voted against the bill, argued: “The bill was dropped on us [the U.S. House] at 11 o’clock at night. I would have had to read each and every page in that bill in 24 seconds or less. That’s how much time we had.”
Tester, a Democrat who supported the measure, said at the time, “it’s an ongoing process. It’s not like you have to read the bill every time an amendment is brought up, because the only thing that’s changed is that amendment …”
“The truth is, you pick the bill up when it’s in bill form; wide margins, wide headers, wide footers, big print with big spaces between the font – so it’s not like reading ‘War and Peace.’”
It appears that Congress, by overlooking or ignoring the insertion and ramifications of a provision that protects AIG, a company bailed out with billions of taxpayer money, should have slowed down the process.
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