Wall Street Bailout
September 26, 2008
There is little public support for President Bush's $700 billion bailout. Just 30 percent support Bush's package, according to an Associated Press poll released Friday. More than 4,000 of you have taken our survey, and those results are even more remarkable. Are you confident that taxpayers would be treated fairly if Congress and the Bush administration agree on a bailout? You aren't. Do you think a bailout would help the economy? No. Do you favor a surtax on individuals who make more than $500,000 a year and couples earning more than $1 million to pay for a Wall Street bailout? More than 91 percent agree with the proposal by Senator Bernie Sanders. What's more, as of late Friday, more than 40,000 (as of late Friday) of you co-signed Bernie's letter to Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson suggesting a tax on the very wealthy.
"While the Bush administration has quickly rallied to help Wall Street, it has ignored the needs of the declining middle class. Since President Bush has been in office the wealthiest people in this country have made out like bandits and have not had it so good since the 1920s. The top 0.1 percent now earn more income than the bottom 50 percent of Americans and the top, 1 percent own more wealth than the bottom 90 percent," the letter to Paulson says.
Among the wealthiest Americans are the tycoons that ran many of the same Wall Street financial institutions now lining up for bailouts.
Paulson himself received a $38 million bonus in 2005, when he was chief executive of Goldman Sachs. It was the largest bonus ever given to a Wall Street CEO. In December of 2006, John Mack of Morgan Stanley broke Paulson's record with a $40 million bonus. Not to be outdone, Lloyd Blankfein, the new CEO of Goldman Sachs received a $53 million bonus later that month. In 2007, Blankfein shattered his own record by receiving a $68 million bonus.
In October of 2007, E. Stanley O'Neal, the former chief executive of Merrill Lynch, collected a severance package worth an estimated $161 million. Due to its risky investments, Merrill Lynch was recently sold to Bank of America.
Angelo Mozilo, the former CEO of Countrywide, received a severance package of about $110 million. That's on top of $140 million in Countrywide stock that he sold off during 2006-07. Mozilo was also paid $48 million in 2006. Due to its risky investments, Countrywide was sold to Bank of America.
In 2007, Wall Street's five biggest firms - Bear Stearns, Goldman Sachs, Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch, and Morgan Stanley - paid a record $39 billion in bonuses to themselves.
Wall Street's investment bank bonuses are larger than the gross domestic products of Sri Lanka, Lebanon or Bulgaria, and the average bonus of $219,198 is more than four times higher than the median U.S. household income in 2006.
To sign the letter to Paulson, click here.
To take our poll or read the results, click here.
To read about the AP poll, click here.