Posted tagged ‘Johnny Isakson’

President Obama ‘Stunned’ by AIG Bonuses

March 20, 2009

Hey…so was I!

President Barack Obama said last night on “The Tonight Show” that he was stunned to hear about the $165 million in bonuses that were paid to employees of troubled insurer AIG over the weekend.

He has promised to do everything he could to get these bonuses back.

From NBC News:

“These financial industries are holding us hostage,” Obama said in an interview on NBC’s “Tonight Show With Jay Leno,” which NBC said was the first time a sitting president had been a guest on a late-night talk show.

Obama said the AIG payments raised moral and ethical problems, but he stressed that the bigger problem was the culture that allowed traders to claim them.

“We need to get back to a place where people know enough is enough,” he said. “If we can get back to those values that built America, then we’ll be OK.”

Obama used the visit as an opportunity to defend Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, who has been sharply criticized for his handling of the AIG controversy. Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., called for Geithner to resign Thursday afternoon.

But Obama said Geithner was doing an “outstanding job,” handling a full plate with grace and good humor.

“He is a smart guy. He is a calm and steady guy,” Obama said. “I don’t think people fully appreciate the plate that was handed him.”

Listing the recession, the banking crisis and the need to coordinate with other countries, Obama acknowledged that Geithner was “on the hot seat.” But he said too many in Washington were trying to figure out whom to blame when they should be focused on fixing the problems.

“Look, I’m the president. Ultimately, it’s my responsibility,” Obama said. “If I’m not giving [Geithner] the tools he needs, it’s on me.”