Healthy Firms Getting Bailed Out, Too?

Created: September 24, 2008 10:10 | Last updated: July 31, 2020 00:00

To hear the Bush administration promote its $700 billion bailout plan for Wall Street’s ailing financial institutions, the impression created is one of dire necessity: Without these taxpayer dollars, the message goes, the banks crumble, followed by the economy as a whole.

So it was curious yesterday when White House spokesman Tony Fratto — explaining why the administration opposes restrictions on executive pay for participating companies — revealed that it won’t just be struggling firms that will be able to benefit from the taxpayers’ gift. From the official transcript:

You have to remember, these are not all weak or troubled firms that own mortgage-backed securities. A lot of them are very successful banks and investment houses that have done very well, have been responsible, are holding performing assets that have value. They were not necessarily irresponsible players, and so you have to be careful about how you deal with them.

How you deal with them?

How you deal with them is to let them on their merry way. Certainly healthy companies have no need (and therefore, by definition, should not be permitted) to participate in the bailout, right?

And if the CEO pay limits would act to discourage healthy companies from grabbing taxpayer handouts, doesn’t that simply provide another reason why Congress should demand those limits be included?

Hat tip: Daily Kos.