Public outrage over the Wall Street bailout and the absurdity of paying top executives huge bonuses for disastrous performances has embarrassed Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley into halting bonus payments this year for their chief executives and some other top officials. Merrill Chairman and Chief Executive John Thain recently had suggested that his directors give him a $10 million bonus, but backed off. Morgan Stanley CEO John Mack also will get no bonus this year for the way he ran the firm that got a $10 billion infusion from the federal government. Senator Bernie Sanders, who voted against the Wall Street bailout, was one of the first to sound an alarm over bonuses.
Sanders also made the case against bonuses in a letter sent Oct. 24 to Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson. "All of us have a responsibility to make sure that the insatiable greed on Wall Street is not allowed to continue and that we do everything possible to ensure taxpayer dollars are protected," Sanders wrote to Paulson.
"To force struggling Americans to pay for bonuses to millionaire Wall Street bankers who are responsible for the worst financial crises since the Great Depression would be an outrage and must not be allowed to happen," Sanders said in a separate Oct. 29 letter to Senate colleagues.
In addition to calling for a ban on bonuses for bailed out bankers, Sanders also introduced a bill that would prohibit companies that received cash infusions from the Treasury Department from paying any of their employees more in total compensation than the $400,000 salary of the president of the United States.