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10 House Republicans for arbitrary salary control; Minority Whip Cantor votes “present” (!)

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By Michelle Malkin  •  April 1, 2009 10:32 PM

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85 House Republicans, I shall remind you again, voted for the AIG/CYA confiscatory bonus tax.

Some of them have learned their lesson, but not all.

Today, 10 Republicans joined the Grabby Hands Democrats in passing the new “Pay for Performance Act” — to curb “excessive” employee pay at financial firms that receive government bailout funds, “a measure that could supplant [the] earlier effort to heavily tax executive bonuses.” The bill passed 247-171.

Here are the 10 House Republicans who think it is government’s job to determine what “excessive” pay is in every workplace except their own (full roll call vote here):

Bilirakis
Brown-Waite, Ginny
Cao
Diaz-Balart, L.
Diaz-Balart, M.
Duncan
Jones
McHugh
Rohrabacher
Ros-Lehtinen

At least this bonus-taxing bunch of appalling GOP turncoats is consistent in supporting radical government meddling.

Oh, and look who voted “present:”

Cantor

!!!!

As for those who had a change of heart: Sorry, you don’t deserve wine and roses for doing what you should have done in the first place. There’s no rational reason or fixed principle the rest of the class of 85 House Republicans who voted for the first bonus restrictions can give you for supporting that measure while opposing the new salary controls — harbingers of worse things to come. And they know it.

The 85 AIG bonus-taxing House Republicans, led by Minority Whip Eric Cantor, revealed their arbitrary and capricious commitment to fiscal conservatism. They can’t be trusted to stand for what’s right when the heat is on. And they shouldn’t be allowed to forget it.

***

Here is Cantor’s explanation:

House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.), who caused consternation in his party by voting in favor of taxing AIG executive bonuses, voted “present” Wednesday on a second bill aimed at tackling bonuses.

In a statement, Cantor said he voted present because his wife works for an institution that could be affected by the legislation. He also criticized the bill as a “misguided” intrusion by the federal government into the private sector.

“This misguided bill gives the federal government unprecedented new power to dictate compensation levels for private citizens employed by companies,” Cantor said in the statement.

“However, I believe that every Member of Congress must take all of their responsibilities seriously, and since this legislation may affect my spouse, in accordance with House rules and with an abundance of caution, I voted ‘present’ and submitted my rationale to the official Congressional record.”

So, he voted “present” because the bill might affect his wife’s bank. But he voted “yes” on the AIG bonus tax…which also may have affected his wife’s bank, and which, by the way, received bucket loads of TARP money. Hmmm:

The earlier measure that Cantor supported would impose a 90 percent tax on bonuses at firms that receive at least $5 billion in government aid. The measure, which is unlikely to be taken up by the Senate, would have applied to individual or family income exceeding $250,000. A spokesman for Cantor said the lawmaker’s spouse may not be affected by that bill.

Diana F. Cantor runs a Virginia-based subsidiary of New York Private Bank and Trust, according to ProPublica, a non-partisan investigative journalism organization. The New York bank received $267.2 million from the U.S. Treasury’s Troubled Asset Relief Program on Jan. 9.

Are you buying this (especially given his past weaseling on this issue)?

***

Best reaction to Cantor on Twitter:

@andylevy:

That’s weird – I was under the impression that the Whip was like a leadership position or something. Guess not!

I’d like to hear his rationale for why taxing bonuses at 90% is okay, but the PfPA is “misguided intrusion.” And I’d like that rationale to be something other than the fact that one doesn’t affect his wife and one does.

***

More: GOP Rep. Bilirakis tries to explain his rationale for sponsoring the bill…

“I have opposed each of the bailouts that have passed through this body, and I am a believer in free markets. Under normal circumstances, I would argue that executive pay is best left to the company and its shareholders. However, when companies are receiving billions of dollars of taxpayer monies, full disclosure can help guide our future legislative decisions on the use of taxpayer money,” Bilirakis said. “Policy makers and those we represent should have the benefit of this information.”

In addition to the database, a Bilirakis amendment was adopted which clarifies that an institution which is not a TARP recipient will not be subject to the requirements of the bill as a result of doing business with a TARP recipient.

“As we work together to force TARP recipients that refuse to voluntarily change their excessive and unreasonable compensation practices, we must be careful not to overreach and inadvertently restrict compensation at firms that are not TARP recipients,” Bilirakis said. “This language gives assurance to non-TARP recipients that it is OK to do business with those firms on taxpayer life support.

GOP Rep. Dana Rohrbacher also echoed this rationale in an exchange we had on Twitter last night.

The problem is that this bill neglects the real-world consequences of its effect. This is paving the path for Barney Frank’s wider power grab. And no matter how the Republicans might try to insulate responsible businesses from those consequences, the Left’s desired government salary control is here. Yes, I believe that taxpayer money should come with strings attached. Go ahead: Force them to disclose how they spend the money. But dictating compensation for the sake of mollifying the mob? Is that fiscally conservative? What do “excessive” and “unreasonable” mean? Who defines it?

If you don’t want companies spending our money on “excessive” bonuses, do not give them the money in the first place. Period.

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Categories: AIG, Subprime crisis, Tim Geithner

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