Executive Pay Agreement

The cap on executive pay, announced yesterday by President Obama, has stirred an interesting debate about government intrusion into the private sector, yet it may have produced the first real bipartisan moment of Obama's young and thus far partisan presidency.

Obviously, Republicans don't love the idea, but they agree that lavish paychecks, planes and parties are appropriate for successful companies only — not failed ones relying on government handouts. Even House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio), who has led the charge against the stimulus, agreed: "If anyone is looking for the taxpayer to help bail their company out," he said, "these type of executive pay caps are appropriate."

The caps only apply to future flunkers, and there is lots of room for leeway. Plus, mid- and low-level executives can continue to earn millions without limits at the same places — it’s a great time to be second best.

In addition to bipartisanship, the pay caps brought us our first glimmer of good news since learning the dreaded acronym TARP (Troubled Asset Relief Program) — one company already wants to pay the Treasury back. According to today's New York Times, David A. Viniar, the chief financial officer of Goldman Sachs, the recipient of $10 billion in TARP funds, "told analysts that this firm wanted to repay the government as quickly as feasible to be 'under less scrutiny and under less pressure,' according to Bloomberg News."

Go ahead — pay it back — please.


IS THERE HOPE LEFT FOR THE STIMULUS? Ask A.B. returns Monday, Feb. 9. Please join my weekly video Q & A by sending your questions and comments to askab@thehill.com. Thank you.

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