March 18th, 2009
01:11 PM ET
5 years ago

Obama defends treasury secretary, lambasts AIG bonuses

President Barack Obama defended his treasury secretary Wednesday, saying that no one in the Obama administration had been Responsible for supervising ailing insurance giant AIG.
President Barack Obama defended his treasury secretary Wednesday, saying that no one in the Obama administration had been Responsible for supervising ailing insurance giant AIG.

WASHINGTON (CNN) – President Barack Obama defended his treasury secretary Wednesday, saying that no one in the Obama administration had been Responsible for supervising ailing insurance giant AIG.

Tim Geithner "is making all the right moves in terms of playing a bad hand," the president said.

"There has never been a secretary of the treasury, except maybe Alexander Hamilton, right after the Revolutionary War, who has had to deal with the multiplicity of issues that Secretary Geithner's having to deal with," he said.

The president spoke to reporters just outside the White House as he prepared to depart on a trip to California.

Obama again lambasted controversial bonuses given to executives at AIG, which has received $173 billion in U.S. government bailouts over the past six months.

"People are rightly outraged about these particular bonuses," he said.

"But, just as outrageous is the culture that these bonuses are a symptom of that have existed for far too long, a situation where excess greed, excess compensation, excess risk taking, have all made us vulnerable and left us holding the bag."

Obama said he had just spoken with his economic team and also with Rep. Barney Frank, D-Massachusetts, who is the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee.

Frank is presiding over hearings Wednesday on the AIG debacle. AIG chief executive Edward Liddy is expected to testify later in the day.


Filed under: AIG • President Obama
soundoff (21 Responses)
  1. Jimbo

    Obama sounds just like Bush patting his man on the back right after New Orliens got washed away. "Doing one heck of a job."

    March 18, 2009 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  2. Paris

    Mr. Obama drop the act and move on with more important issues.

    Russia is settling next door and you are demonizing American citizens!!

    I have never felt more worried about the future of this country.

    March 18, 2009 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  3. mark

    what part of "he knew in May" doesn't Obama understand. When will he take responsibility and quit blaming others?

    March 18, 2009 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  4. Beverly Sublett

    THANK YOU PRESIDENT OBAMA FOR YOUR COMMENTS IN DEFENDING YOUR STAFF ESPECIALLY TIM GEITHER HE IS GOING TO DO A GREAT JOB. BUT KEEP DEFENDING MR. GEITHER HE HAS GOT YOUR BACK AND THE AMERICAN PEOPLE.

    These people that criticize Tim Geither Would not do any better of a job than he would their not in his position and if these lawmakers and Republicans were they would be criticized to.

    Thanks for taking a stand against nay-sayers.

    March 18, 2009 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  5. Good for Obama

    but this man is right in the middle of this trouble with no progress out of the recession

    what a nightmare Bush is and was

    March 18, 2009 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  6. aware

    Right, and the devil comes as an angel of light! :(

    March 18, 2009 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  7. aware

    Of course!

    Do you know who comes as an angel of light? :(

    March 18, 2009 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  8. The Broker.

    Jokes are no good. Adverts are even more stupid. I promised all kinds of savings on Contracts. That is the Gamble if you want my service to continue. Otherwise you have to go elsewhere. I was Good!! I love to listen to None-Skilled dreamers....

    March 18, 2009 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  9. RM

    Have people already forgotten about the $3.6 BILLION in bonuses given to Merrill Lynch execs immediately before they were bought by Bank of America? This was also done using taxpayers money.

    This is actually a bigger scandal than AIG.

    March 18, 2009 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  10. Rick

    Obama, it is time for you to do something right, It is time for you to FIRE Timmy the tax dodger for his MISMANAGEMENT of the American peoples TAX DOLLARS.

    March 18, 2009 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  11. yuri

    Tim Geithner's performance a nything but tactful, to say our thoughts. He came in with a ton of tampered and tarnished images and all these may total out to be a tempestuous travesty for him.

    March 18, 2009 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  12. D. D.

    Question- does AIG handle the retirements of our Congress and Senate? Can someone please answer this question?
    I am already furious and here comes Fannie Mae people set up for bonuses
    . Heck, citizens need jobs and these people who have are getting even more. No one in America deserves this level of money except Vets and many teachers- No One Else! Let's relevel this economic field while we are in this bind.

    March 18, 2009 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  13. Vic

    Oh lord, come on, the guy as been Treasury Secretary for what 30 or 40 days. And these lame A$$ Repubs want to fire him before he even gets started. Geithner is just the FALL GUY for all these economic problems that Prez Obama and Geithner inherited from Mr. Lame A$$ himself, GEORGE W BUSH . Bush is the one that hired Mr Liddy and approved those crazy bonuses for AIG. Liddy is the one that needs to be fired for even thinking of given the bonuses in the first place. Repubs seem to want to kiss Mr Liddy's A$$ just to find out when Geithner found out about it instead of hammering the guy for beening incompetent of giving AIG bonuses!

    March 18, 2009 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  14. Cindy

    And we all know what happened to Alexander Hamilton, right? :-)

    It's a dangerous job; Mr. Geitner needs to step up his game.

    March 18, 2009 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  15. Jesse, MA.

    Yuri, your alliteration is indeed an interesting instrument, though it is simply a device to distract from the deficiency of detail in your perfunctory, and peculiar, sub par post. Henceforth you might hold back your haughty and heinously half-hearted cogitations, until they are carefully constructed and completely concluded, lest you leave your lack of research laying about as you so lackadaisically have above.

    March 18, 2009 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  16. P. Y.

    @ Vic-–You may as well save your breath. A lot of the bloggers on here don't want to hear logic, or the truth for that matter. They are just here to slam the Obama Administration. They will try to put all blame on them for the same old reasons they had for not wanting Obama to be president. They would sell the country out rather then admit that most of the problems came from the bush Administration.

    March 18, 2009 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  17. The Death of America by Obama

    I wouldn't believe obama if he told me the sky was blue.
    Once a liar always a liar.
    If you believe anything this man says then you are some kind of STUPID.

    March 18, 2009 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  18. Yamini Balachandran from AZ

    Whoever is saying Obama is doing TOO MANY things at the same time IS in idiot!!!

    HealthCare Reform – it is the biggest cost / drag on our costs (& so, the
    budget)
    Education – the ONLY way to stay more productive and succeed
    Afghanistan/ Pakistan – NO CHOICE
    Deficit Control – the Chinese are planning to sell our Treasury notes!!!

    So wake up, you MOURONS....

    Ofcourse you cannot miss the Cheney & Bush – they did NOTHING but skrew us all, so anyone who does SOMETHING looks like he is doing a LOT :-)

    March 18, 2009 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  19. Yamini Balachandran from AZ

    Whoever is saying Obama is doing TOO MANY things at the same time IS in idiot!!!

    1) HealthCare Reform – it is the biggest cost / drag on our costs (& so, the
    budget)
    2) Education – the ONLY way to stay more productive and succeed
    3) Afghanistan/ Pakistan – NO CHOICE
    4) Deficit Control – the Chinese are planning to sell our Treasury notes!!!

    So wake up, you MOURONS....

    Ofcourse you cannot miss the Cheney & Bush – they did NOTHING but skrew us all, so anyone who does SOMETHING looks like he is doing a LOT :-)

    March 18, 2009 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  20. DaveM

    Since the GOP has nothing of true value to offer, they fall back to the unpleasant formula of toxic partisan rhetoric and unprecedented negativity. In this time when our elected leaders should all be working together to get this country out of the disastrous mess that was Republican-made in the first place, you would think they would rise above the ugliness and pettiness that defines them and cooperate. But no, they want this president to fail and they do not care if this great country and all of its people fail, as well. Unable to adapt to the new climate and landscape, GOPosaurus became extinct in a short period of time...

    March 18, 2009 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  21. Jilli

    Obama's right – Geithner is doing the best with the hand he's been dealt.

    Look at the bright side – we could still be contending with Hank Paulson – you remember him – he wanted $350 billion based on a 1 page memo. That doob landed us in this mess.

    It's going to take time to get us out of the horrendous mess bush and republican ideology has laid upon us.

    March 18, 2009 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |

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