January 31st, 2009
11:24 AM ET
8 months ago

Obama pledges strict oversight of CEOs

Obama's radio address this week again focused on this economy.
Obama's radio address this week again focused on this economy.

(CNN) - President Obama said Saturday his aides are crafting a new plan to revive the country's financial system - and to make sure CEOs don't misuse bailout funds.

"We'll ensure that CEOs are not draining funds that should be advancing our recovery," Obama said, in his weekly radio/YouTube address airing Saturday morning. "And we will insist on unprecedented transparency, rigorous oversight and clear accountability, so taxpayers know how their money is being spent and whether it is achieving results."

News that corporate executives had handed out $20 billion in bonuses last year spurred tough words from Obama this week. The president blasted those bonuses as "the height of irresponsibility," and seemed to say there could be consequences for those decisions.

"While I'm committed to doing what it takes to maintain the flow of credit, the American people will not excuse or tolerate such arrogance and greed," President Obama told listeners Saturday morning. "The road to recovery demands that we all act responsibly, from Main Street to Washington to Wall Street."

He also said that Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is preparing a strategy to lower mortgage costs and increase the flow of credit.


Filed under: President Obama
soundoff (133 Responses)
  1. postor child

    I would let the world know who each one was with a photo and short bio of each man or woman.

    January 31, 2009 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  2. Belle

    I hope President Obama starts with what the Government is doing with the last half of the TARP money.

    In essence, we the taxpayers funded money for the bailouts...that was supposed to "fix" the economy, instead it is worse...and now we are going to fund another 1.2 Trillion?

    That is 31,500 years plus or minus a few years...1.2 Trillion Seconds.

    January 31, 2009 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  3. Rorschach

    Long time coming.... as long as corporate chiefs kept the stock prices high, nothing was good enough for them and that mentality has led us to the brink. We should never have begun treating these people as deities and glorifying bottom-line-over-all thinking.

    That notion overlooks the reality that 70% of this economy is consumer driven... if you marginalize the consumers, where do you find customers? Ask the automakers about it.... they've gotten the picture now.

    January 31, 2009 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  4. kevin

    This is all great in theory. $400k limit, same as the president. The problem lies in the fact that the president doesnt have competition. Watch these companies fall harder now that they cannot hire the best person for the job due to the competitors that didnt accept bailout money offering well in excess of $400k. But hey, this is a Public Relations move. Down with the evil CEOs!

    January 31, 2009 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  5. Ray Fisher

    I have suggested that a modular approach be taken to address individual areas such as mortgages, banks, jobs, investments, etc... to narrow the scope and increase transparency while identifying and accomplishing the goals. Having one large package leaves too much room for mismanagement.

    January 31, 2009 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  6. Allen in Hartwell GA

    At some point these CEOs have to understand that the companies they run are not theirs; the company money they spend is not theirs; the bonuses they hand out doesn't come from their money; and apparently the bonuses they get for themselves is not earned.
    Greed has replaced responsibility in the business world, and has filtered down to the common folk far too much. We need a citizenship revival and an awakening of the American spirit. I'm praying that President Obama can be the force to bring that about.

    January 31, 2009 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  7. needed but how to do it

    that will be a mess to sort out

    January 31, 2009 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  8. audrey

    What about stricter oversight of his cabinet members? Seems they can't even figure out how to pay their taxes.

    January 31, 2009 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  9. Larry

    So far Obama has Not done ANYTHING he has said he would do,but he has done a lot of things he said he WOULD NOT do.This is Chicago politics.

    January 31, 2009 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  10. Veteran for Obama

    Great! And don't forget to use that line item veto to get the pork out of the stimulus plan.

    January 31, 2009 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  11. Sue

    I'm certain that the "Socialist/Marxist" people will be here whining soon, but I have a question for them. What is a better idea? And if one of you spouts "tax cuts" I may scream. Bush gave the wealthy, business, and others cuts, and look at what has happened. It does not create jobs. And CEOs taking bailout money and giving it to themselves is criminal.

    January 31, 2009 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  12. theo

    Yes, but by all means lets create more overpaid government union jobs instead. They make 37% more than private sector non-union jobs, and 17% more than private sector union jobs. The taxpayers can fund these jobs instead, since companies can't look overseas for more reasonable wages.

    January 31, 2009 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  13. About Time

    In addition – I hope there will be oversight of these multi-national company's that are "blowing" jobs out the back door to oversea markets – – – – and then not bringing anything back into the community they left. No "political party" is going to be successful until this country learns how to "make" something again, versus trying to exist on goods from foreign lands and local services! That is not the way our country was built.

    January 31, 2009 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  14. george

    This protectionist president is poisoning the global trade regime. he is inviting a dangerious conflict.

    January 31, 2009 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  15. Robert Sparks

    The scumbag CEO's who are responsible knew they were doing wrong and that's why they ripped off the taxpayers before President Obama took office. They're guilty by calendar date.

    January 31, 2009 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  16. Scott

    How about some strict oversight on CONGRESS and the SENATE??
    Just look at the greed of our politicians and the money lost at their hands.

    January 31, 2009 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  17. Luke

    Get'em Barack. These crooked CEO's and CIO's lay off lower level people so that they can get their bonuses. Of the 100K that were layed off this year, how many of them were the execs? Aren't they the problem? If their companies aren't hitting the numbers, shouldn't they take the hit? They get larger bonuses when the companies they work for make money. Something seems crooked there. Watch out for Karma you crooked CEO's.

    January 31, 2009 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  18. david

    10 BILLION!?!?!? My dear president, Can you see about getting that money back so it can be apropriated BACK into the stimulus package? Sheesh.

    January 31, 2009 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  19. Donna from Minn.

    Mr.President It is about time that we have a leader that will make sure that CEO'S do not misuse bailout funds,the party is over,from someone that lost her job due to a plant closing. We need to get this nation back in the right order so people can get jobs,not argue about stupid stuff,and start helping one another out,and not be so selfish

    January 31, 2009 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  20. Ken in NC

    I can understand the pay set up on Wall Street where employees could get only a portion of their pay or reduced payment during the year and the balance at years end but it should not be in the form of a bonus. A bonus is a sum paid in exchange for meeting a specific goal. As such, the Wall Street bonuses could not then be an unpaid portion of the employees pay.

    This situation is worsened by the purchase of items such as $30,000.00 toilets. Have these people not heard of HOME DEPOT or LOWES and other stores that sell for less?? I mean DANG!!!.

    January 31, 2009 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  21. Ray Fisher

    A key weapon in the President's armory of economic weapons should be requiring the Social Securities E-Verify System be used by ALL American businesses to facilitate employment of our citizens, combat identity fraud, safeguard SSNs and reduce illegal immigration. The key word is "Illegal" since our economy is in no shape to support anything illegal whether immigrants or Wall Street CEOs. By returning to our laws and values we can overcome anything but to wallow in a sea of unenforced law is a bottomless pit!!!

    January 31, 2009 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  22. lg

    Even when the CEO succeeded in turning the company around to big profitability, it was never done the CEO alone. It required the actions of thousands of staff who ended up working harder and earning less but who got nothing in bonus or at best peanuts.

    In our company, the boss cut staff, killed all raises and bonuses long enough to make the balance sheet look good and get himself a big promotion and raise by the parent company. Meanwhile the remaining staff are struggling to deal with the workload but have flat salaries for several years.

    We need to get away from the notion of superstar CEO's to team involvement and team support.

    January 31, 2009 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  23. Louis Zager

    Tax the bonus at 100%.

    January 31, 2009 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  24. gary in OK

    Tough talk is cheap. Repayment of the 18 billion to the government from the money they received from the taxpayers should be immediate, like 8:00 am Monday. If payment is not received, future bailout's to this company should not be considered.

    It is time for the government to take action instead of just talking about it on CNN.

    January 31, 2009 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  25. D R

    How about a prison stint for them also? Embezzlement!

    January 31, 2009 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
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