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First, they came for AIG bonuses

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By Michelle Malkin  •  March 19, 2009 09:28 AM

The House is set to vote today on the retroactive, confiscatory 90 percent tax on bailout-funded bonuses. Lawmakers say the tax will apply to Fannie/Freddie bonuses. But who knows what the hell will end up in this Chicken Little measure:

The House is scheduled to vote today on a bill that would levy a 90 percent tax on bonuses paid to employees with family incomes above $250,000 at companies that have received at least $5 billion in government bailout money.

“We figured that the local and state governments would take care of the other 10 percent,” said Rep. Charles Rangel of New York, chairman of the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee.

Rangel said the bill would apply to mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, among others, while excluding community banks and other smaller companies that have received less bailout money…The top two members of the Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday announced a bill that would impose a 35 percent excise tax on the companies paying the bonuses and a 35 percent excise tax on the employees receiving them. The taxes would apply to all companies receiving government bailout money, but they are clearly geared toward AIG.

The NYPost rightly warns that such politically expedient power grabs are courting catastrophe:

Now, a bonus witch-hunt will satisfy many souls but it surely won’t help solve Liddy’s problem.

Which, obviously, is America’s problem, too.

And such action threatens substantially to damage other institutions now being swept up in it.

Four big New York employers each, it needs to be noted, a major local tax-revenue generator seem to be squarely in Pelosi and Rangel’s sights: Citigroup, JP Morgan Chase, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley.

Many banks entered the federal bailout program because of intense pressure from Washington and many only after being assured that confiscatory taxation and other ex post facto penalties would be off the table.

How badly any of them will be hurt depends on the fine print in the legislation now at issue. Certainly it would be useful if those details got a complete airing before Congress acts.

But politics, hypocrisy, resentment and fear have good sense on the run.

Beware the awful precedent this after-the-fact 90 percent tax grab will set. Remember that last month, Barney Frank was already flexing his grubby paws over executive compensation:

Congress will consider legislation to extend some of the curbs on executive pay that now apply only to those banks receiving federal assistance, House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank said.

“There’s deeply rooted anger on the part of the average American,” the Massachusetts Democrat said at a Washington news conference today.

He said the compensation restrictions would apply to all financial institutions and might be extended to include all U.S. companies.

First, they came for AIG bonuses. Next?

***

Lawhawk: “You can’t lose the irony on any of this. Rep. Charles Rangel, the New York Democrat who’s managed to avoid paying taxes on real estate transactions for years, run afoul of House ethics rules regarding his parking spot, and generally thinks himself as being above the law, is leading the charge to impose a confiscatory tax of 90% on persons receiving the bonuses (executive compensation) at AIG and other companies receiving a bailout from the federal government.”

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Categories: AIG, Subprime crisis, Tim Geithner

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