The Washington Independent
The Washington Independent

Wyden-Snowe Executive-Pay Limits Sliced from Stimulus

The finance industry might be floundering, it might be broke, and it might be ringing the tin cup for federal help. But don’t say Wall Street has lost its sway

Katya Ryder
Last updated: Jul 31, 2020 | Feb 13, 2009

The finance industry might be floundering, it might be broke, and it might be ringing the tin cup for federal help. But don’t say Wall Street has lost its sway over lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

Congress agreed on a final stimulus plan yesterday, but not before stripping out a provision forcing bailed-out banks to repay 2008 bonuses. Under the provision, sponsored by Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), companies receiving funding under the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) would be forced to repay Washington for any 2008 bonuses in excess of $100,000, or pay a 35-percent tax on funds not returned. Wyden is vowing to continue the push to have it passed. From his statement:

Wall Street’s clout continues unabated in Washington, despite having wrecked our economy,” said Wyden.  “I am unbelievably disappointed, but I want it understood that I will be back again and again to recover for taxpayers the exorbitant Wall Street bonuses paid for with TARP money.

It wasn’t supposed to play out this way.

In the wake of reports revealing that Wall Street firms doled out billions in executive bonuses — even after they’d accepted hundreds of billions of federal dollars — lawmakers had vowed to take steps to ensure that TARP funds weren’t going straight into the pockets of the same folks who’d run the banks into the ground.

Indeed, the Senate stimulus bill included several provisions — added as amendments during the floor debate — to do just that. One provision, sponsored by Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), would have capped executive compensation at $400,000. Another, sponsored by Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.), would have banned bonuses for the 25 highest-paid employees of companies receiving TARP funds. The Wyden-Snowe provision was included as well, but was sliced for reasons that still aren’t clear. The removal is strange, if only because the measure was expected to save the federal government more than $3 billion.

It’s unclear if the Dodd and McCaskill amendments made the cut. Apparently, a full 27 hours after a stimulus deal was announced, lawmakers are still haggling over the details of the bill. Stay tuned …

Katya Ryder | School teacher, earned National Board Certification in 2013 I have a passion for science and majored in biology at Arizona State University, where I also earned teaching certificate and Master of Education


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