Like so many other Americans, I was outraged when I found out that AIG was going to use taxpayer dollars to award $165 million in bonuses to its executives. With so many families struggling to get by in this economic crisis, the pay-out of these bonuses showed that executives on Wall Street remain entirely out of touch with our country’s working people. We have seen time and time again that the culture on Wall Street is to award executives for a job not-well done.

And yet, not everyone at big Wall Street banks makes big Wall Street bucks. I found myself wondering whether this pay-out could have even happened if there had been someone in the room when the decision was made to award these bonuses who truly knew the value of a dollar. What if someone who puts in a year’s worth of hard work without the promise of a seven figure bonus at the finish line was asked how much an executive should make?

I have introduced a bill, HR 1714, to bring this kind of common sense to executive compensation. This bill would require that an employee from the bottom of the pay scale at every institution that has received TARP funds be appointed to the institution’s executive compensation board. My hope is that this employee will serve as a stand-in for all of the Americans whose hard-earned tax dollars have gone to stabilize these institutions, and will bring much-needed sense to the compensation of the executives that have accepted TARP funds. Hard-working Americans are helping these firms weather the economic storm, and I think that it is only right to have a hard-working American at the table the next time executives try to give themselves another bonus paid for by taxpayers.