January 31st, 2009
11:24 AM ET
11 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. jim

    And Rudy G. wants to keep the bonuses so rich New Yorkers can go to lunch! Let these losers brown bag it. Why should my money pay for some rich person's lunch?? What a loser!!

    Disgusting!!!

    So happy AHs like him are out of power!!

    January 31, 2009 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  2. Americano

    Will posters please refrain from the following:

    * Openly rooting against your President who is trying to work in a very, very difficult time. If you think life on Main St is tough, you can't fathom one day in the Oval Office. There's a difference between free speech and right to dissent, and then hoping the President fails because he is not of your party.

    * Giving us your thoughts on how to fix the economy if you do not have a Masters or better in Econ or Development, or actual know how. Yes you want a job and more money, but you don't want more tax debt in the future or higher taxes. Wow, the kid at Burger King could have said the same banal observation. If your view of "tax cuts" or "more jobs" were so profound, wouldn't we have done it?

    * Talking about how Obama's the best thing since sliced bread. Again, no need to pile on unwarranted criticisms, but let's not carve his image into Mt Rushmore yet.

    So what am I advocating? That people do something themselves instead of expecting the government to fix everything. If you know anything about government, you'll know it's based on Enlightenment principles which never held into belief that the government was a cure all for every problem. Why not try:
    * Balancing your checkbook
    * Living within your means, not off your credit cards
    * Not owning more car(s) or house(s) than you can afford
    * Consuming what you need, not what you want
    If any of these four apply to you, you are as much at fault for this dilemma as any Wall Street executive or politician. The truth is a hard pill to swallow, and until you do...we're all in trouble.

    January 31, 2009 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  3. James From Chicago

    Thank God someone is stepping up to the plate for the American
    people. Two thumbs up for Obama.

    January 31, 2009 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  4. Mike G

    Good for Obama! It's about time someone put a stop to the selfish greed in the corporate board-rooms. There is no excuse for ANYONE to receive a multi-million dollar bonus – especially when the company is failing and on the dole. This would be akin to a welfare mother seeking a million dollar bonus. It's time to make those white collar elitist criminals work like the rest of us.

    January 31, 2009 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  5. J

    All this talk you hear from Obama proves that he does not understand what he is talking about. Excluding top executives, bonuses are how people on Wall Street get paid. They receive a bonus if they make money for the company...if they are not profitable then employees receive no bonus. This is similar to asking the employees to work for free. If that is what Obama wants the companies will not survive and the impact will be even larger. Would you ask a waitress to work and not receive tips? This is Obama playing the blame game and the media going along with it.

    January 31, 2009 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  6. George Jones

    So the horse is out of the barn and we're going to denounce these bonuses but can we get the money back or punish the greedy CEO's?

    January 31, 2009 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  7. lilacs

    Wow someone that is willing to work on the problems of the economy and have acountabilty. President Obama thank you for doing the peoples bidding. Now if the do nothing republicans will just get out of the way and stop trying to obstrut ever thing you are working so hard to fix. You go sir. great respect for your efforts .

    January 31, 2009 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  8. Bell

    The CEO's should put their bonuses togeather and bail out themselves instead of the umemployed being expected to pay for a bailout for them to take a cruise with. Are any of them going to prison like the gentleman that bought all the silver just to have the silver market crash? He made an honesat mistake and paid dearly for it but Wallstreet CEO's think they are entitled to our money.

    January 31, 2009 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  9. Don of Iowa

    It is about time someone cracks down on the unethical and immoral practices of many CEOs in this country whereby requiring huge sums of monies and totally rediculous bonuses and perks for doing absolutely nothing except being the named head of a company. These are the most pernicious of the vile GOP (Greedy Old Pigs) and should be reined in with extreme consequences for any company seen playing to these most greedy and irreputable of all in the business world. There is absolutely NOONE who does anything within a company to help a company in any way better thier profits by the degree that these vile persons feel they should be compensated for. This is the most rediculous and highly visible form of the rich taking care of the most rich by enhancing thier wealth from the exploited sweat of those who work for these companies. There is no CEO in this history of this country who has done enough to earn half of what he has been given for the job and no CEO has ever done nearly enough to qualify for even a tenth of what many of them are given as compensation for doing nearly nothing but going to the golf course and flying around in a private corporate jet. If a CEO gets more than 10 times the lowest employee of the company then the company should be forced to pay a guaranteed 20% extra in corporate taxes as a result of this unethical practice no deductions of any kind allowed to lower or set aside this penalty should be allowed and no dividends should be allowed to be paid out to ant=y stockholder as a result of this type of practice. It is time the CEOs did the same as every one else in this country, earn they pay they receive, not be given it just because they are rich and have lots of power, this is tne biggest shame of Wall Street and should be addressed with the strictest possible consequences for any business found practicing such.

    January 31, 2009 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  10. Alan

    Who is he going to appoint to oversee his cabinet to make sure they all pay their taxes.

    If you don't pay what you owe, or if you take what is not yours, it is the same thing – STEALING!!

    We have a bunch of thieves running the gov't and wall st.

    January 31, 2009 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  11. Dan, TX

    Wall Street brought this onto themselves. They say the work hard and deserve it. There are thousands of people who are just as smart, who work as hard, and could do just as good a job. But those people aren't connected into the protected Wall Street world. There is not real competition for those jobs. It is artificial. Wall Street is socialism, the socialist parasites take our wealth and distribute it among themselves. Wall Street has to be made transparent, the running of those publicly held companies has to be open to shareholders.

    January 31, 2009 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  12. Henry

    Shades of the old Soviet Union! Government oversight on profits and bonuses! While it is appalling bankers and stock traders and such have earned their 'do as I say and not as I do' reputations one ugly deal at atime, it is not the government's job to dictate what a private entity's compensation system is supposed to be and do.

    Make the bailout terms firm and fair and enforceable so that they aren't misused – but do not go meddling into areas that government has businees being in. If the banks and such don't like the terms and oversight of the bailout – refuse to give them the funds and let the chips fall where they may – but meddling in an internal business' affairs – providing they are legal – is not the job of the government.

    January 31, 2009 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  13. Steve

    I hope he is successful. Their actions have been appalling. it's time to clean that rat's nest we call Wall Street out.

    I don't have any problem with someone being paid well, and given bonuses for top performance. I DO have extreme anger over someone getting top pay and bonuses, when they came to me a few months ago as a tax payer, hats in hand, asking for bailout money, and then just blew it on fun stuff. There should be jail time for these idiots. Let's keep GITMO open. I think we just thought of a new use for it. I'll help with the waterboarding (not to get information, just to teach these clowns a lesson).

    January 31, 2009 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  14. fred

    SOCIALIST. How about........we just don't give bailouts to bad CEOs.

    January 31, 2009 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  15. DNC

    the fact that the TARP went through relatively unchallenged in its detail or LACK of conditions exhibits the carlessness and lack of oversight of both Houses of Congress, the Treasury Dept., the POTUS and all economists in favor of the bailout.

    It is that very behavior of our government and the corporations that should inspire ALL of US to DEMAND BETTER than the SPEND and PAY OFF BILL in the SENATE. SEVENTY, (70), PER CENT of the bill has no effect in 09 of stimulating the econmy. Over half of that 70%, is simply SPEND measures without any trickle to the economy.

    WASHINGTON D.C. IS STILL LOBBYIST HAVEN and HEAVEN

    January 31, 2009 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  16. mjm

    First of all, the government has no right to restrict citizens pay.

    Besides, CEO's pay taxes on their bonuses. 30-35% of that bonus goes to the government. That's the reason we have tax brackets.

    Second, the Democrats are the ones spending BILLIONS of dollars on projects that have nothing to do with "recovery" and will generate no jobs.

    I would rather have the tax revenue from Wall Street the debt from congress.

    January 31, 2009 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  17. southerncousin

    Let us see if this gets as many hate filled comments from the whacko liberals as the story about Palin's grandson's name did. As I recall it was about 300.

    January 31, 2009 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  18. Chris F. Campbell

    Why doesn't the President have the Attorney General investigate if any laws were broken by giving $20 Billion bonuses? This is beyond greed, it should be criminal. Not only do I want the $20 Billion back in the Treasury but they should be fined another $20 Billion for their greed and spend years in jail. The American people can hardly pay their bills and these Billionaires are screwing us more. Does anyone in Washington have a clue or care about us?

    January 31, 2009 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  19. D

    I think it is interesting that President Obama is complaining about the banks paying huge bonus when the federal government allows its contractors to give huge bonus to their CEOs in these tough economic times. People may consider this apples and oranges, but when utilizing government funds, everyone should be treated equally.

    I applaud Senator McCaskill proposed salary cap and suggest that she extend the concept to cover not only the financial institutions, but any corporation or individual employee that receives the majority of their revenue from the federal government.

    January 31, 2009 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  20. fearful for my country

    So who's going to watch you Obama? What a joke. We all know what your doing.

    January 31, 2009 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  21. Hugh

    Dear Mister President,

    Would you accept a little sideline ? You are VERY welcome to come up here in Canada and be our new Prime Minister. You would be elected easily, with a HUGE majority.

    BTW, our "bright" financial minister did a carbon copy of your economic approach and is investing billions of dollars in infrastuctures, schools, fixing roads and ect, to "give a boost to economy", In fact, the government is basing it's decisions on everything you are doing.

    Believe me, Mr. President, you would be tremendously welcomed here.

    Thank you for thinking about it
    :o)

    Your friendly neighbour
    Hugues from Laval

    January 31, 2009 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  22. Daniel

    Harsh words don't mean anything unless followed up by swift action and penalties for misappropriation.

    January 31, 2009 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  23. Mari

    President Obama is RIGHT.

    TO WALL STREET & BANKS:

    IF YOU TAKE TAX PAYER MONEY THEN THERE IS NO ....BONUS!

    IF YOU TAKE TAX PAYER MONEY, YOU MUST LOWER THE SALARY OF YOUR PEOPLE, FROM THE CEO, ON DOWN!

    PEOPLE ON MAIN STREET ARE NOT BEING BAILED OUT, THEY ARE HELPING ........YOU...... BANKS & WALL STREET WITH OUR HARD EARNED MONEY........ YOU DO NOT HAVE THE RIGHT TO A BONUS!

    January 31, 2009 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  24. Independent_me

    CAP CEO COMPENSATION + BONUSES AT $400,000 A YEAR!

    Even George W Bush did not get paid more than $400,000 for running the country into the ground..

    Why should CEO's get billions for running their companies into the ground? Those billions could have been paid out in dividends to their shareholders, which would have pumped money into the economy. They have raided their companies, and robbed their shareholders!

    Their Boards of Directors should be held accountable and jailed for not carrying out their fiduciary duties...they provided no oversight, and did not represent the shareholders' interests!

    January 31, 2009 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  25. Texas Teacher

    I might offer one warning to our new President: "If you lie down with thieves, It is possible that you may not get up smelling like a rose."

    January 31, 2009 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
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