As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Dodd Was Pushed - Who Pushed Him?

Chris Dodd's "admission" that he was asked by unidentified Administration officials to take out the limits on executive compensation and bonuses from the stimulus package is being treated like a bombshell, for reasons which escape me. Let's start with his statement (via email):

“I’m the one who has led the fight against excessive executive compensation, often over the objections of many. I did not want to make any changes to my original Senate-passed amendment but I did so at the request of Administration officials, who gave us no indication that this was in any way related to AIG. Let me be clear – I was completely unaware of these AIG bonuses until I learned of them last week.

Reports that I changed my position on this issue are simply untrue. I answered a question by CNN last night regarding whether or not a specific date was aimed at protecting AIG. When I saw that my comments had been misconstrued, I felt it was important to set the record straight – that this had nothing to do with AIG.

Fortunately, we wrote this amendment in a way that allows the Treasury Department to go back and review these bonus contracts and seek to recover the money for taxpayers. Again, I have led the fight to curb excessive executive compensation, and will continue to do so.”

Dodd is classier than whatever Administration official tried to rat him out on this. But the fact remains that Dodd devised the amendment capping bankster salaries, authored it, got it passed through the Senate, and then someone in the White House asked him to nix part of it, which he did, reluctantly, while keeping in the forward-looking language. And by the way, this was all public knowledge in the run-up to the conference committee on the stimulus. I fail to understand how there could be a grand conspiracy on such a well-covered subject.

The only question that remains is: Who?Who asked Dodd to take out the amendment?

The anti-bonus provision has been the subject of several posts in the liberal blogosphere today, after an anonymous administration official was quoted in the New York Times Sunday appearing to place the blame on Dodd for the weakening of the language.

Jane Hamsher cites two contemporaneous articles on the stimulus that identify top administration opposing to Dodd's original, tougher language. This one from the Wall Street Journal reports that Timothy Geithner and Lawrence Summers "had called Sen. Dodd and asked him to reconsider."

And this one, from The Hill, says President Obama himself wanted changes in the provision.

If those reports -- both anonymously sourced -- are accurate, contacts with Dodd occurred well above the "staff level." Something tells us we'll be hearing more about this.

The reporters from the WSJ and The Hill who anonymously sourced their stories could actually shed the most light on this by simply giving up their sources, but of course that's not going to happen. So we wait. Tim Geithner or Larry Summers have an opportunity to clear their names as well.

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