How Big Was Your Bonus?

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Did you even get a bonus? Yet we’re supposed to pay for big bonus and trip packages for those poor struggling bailed out still gloriously employed – OK, I’d better stop this thought now while I’m still ahead.

Here’s a great email I got a little while ago. Does it make your blood boil?  

“Congress must place enforceable, common-sense limits on salaries at all the banks that have taken taxpayer dollars.”

Sign the petition

Dear MoveOn member,

Last Friday, Sen. Claire McCaskill took to the Senate floor and said what I imagine a lot of us have been thinking about Wall Street lately:

“They don’t get it. These people are idiots. You can’t use taxpayer money to pay out $18 billion in bonuses…What planet are these people on?”1

Sen. McCaskill was reacting to the $18.4 billion in bonuses that Wall Street bankers took home in 2008. $18.4 billion going to the people who crippled our economy with their recklessness and greed and then took $700 billion of our money.2

Yesterday, President Obama took an important first step, limiting pay at companies taking bailouts going forward.3 But Congress is considering going even further, applying the limits retroactively and even taking back some of the most extravagant bonuses at firms that took taxpayer money.4

A huge public outcry will give them momentum and push them to real action. Can you sign this petition to Congress, urging them to act now to rein in Wall Street greed? Clicking here will add your name:

The petition says: “Congress must place enforceable, common-sense limits on salaries at all the banks that have taken taxpayer dollars.” 

Wall Street’s defenders make all kinds of excuses about why the bonuses were justified.  They say that bonuses are an accepted part of compensation packages on Wall Street, that those receiving bonuses weren’t the ones who lost their firms billions of dollars, and that they need to pay bonuses to retain top talent.5

Those arguments are outrageous.

If automatic bonuses are a part of Wall Street culture, that culture has to change—a firm that’s still afloat only because of huge taxpayer bailouts shouldn’t be paying bonuses. And while tens of thousands of Wall Street employees are losing their jobs, it’s hard to believe that those still employed will go looking for new positions because they didn’t get a bonus.

Sen. McCaskill showed courage standing up to the status quo. We’ve got to show the rest of Congress that this is the kind of leadership we need to get us out of this crisis and make the economy work for all Americans. Limiting pay at companies taking bailouts won’t fix our financial system—that will take a lot more hard work—but it’s an important first step.

Can you tell Congress to rein in Wall Street’s excesses now and then pass this petition on to your friends? Clicking here will add your name:

Thanks for all you do.

–Daniel, Peter, Justin, Marika and the rest of the team 


1. “McCaskill Proposes Compensation Cap For Private Companies Getting Federal Dollars,” Senate Newsroom, January 30, 2009

2. “What Red Ink? Wall St. Paid Fat Bonuses,” The New York Times, January 28, 2009

3. “Obama Outlines Limits on Executive Pay,” The Washington Post, February 5, 2009

4. “Despite Treasury’s New Rule, Senators Aren’t Giving Up Their Push to Cap CEO Pay,” TPMDC, February 4, 2009

5. “‘Meet the Press’ transcript for Feb. 1, 2009,”, February 1, 2009

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PAID FOR BY MOVEON.ORG POLITICAL ACTION, Not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee. This email was sent to Carole Pagan on February 5, 2009.

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