Congress discovers the virtue of retention bonuses

Just a few months ago, members of the House suggested pitchforks and torches for a response to AIG’s decision to honor their contractual obligations and pay retention bonuses.  Senators got in on the outrage, too, at least until CNN made Chris Dodd admit on national TV that he’d lied about inserting language in the AIG bailout that allowed the bonuses to be paid.  Now, however, the House approves of organizations paying retention bonuses while losing tons of taxpayer money every year:

A month after they voted to punish some corporate executives for taking hefty bonus payouts, members of the House of Representatives quietly gave their own staffers a new potential bonus by making even their top-earning aides eligible for taxpayer dollars to repay their student loans.

The change, which took effect in May, means House employees earning up to $168,411, or the top level, are now eligible for government-funded subsidies to help pay down their student loans.

Yes, because we know how hard it is for people making $168,411 per year to repay their loans.  How many of these aides took advantage of Cash for Clunkers, by the way?  Just asking.

House officials defend the change as a job-related benefit necessary to keep the government competitive in the hiring market – the same argument corporate chieftains used to defend their own pay scales.

Do you think executives at AIG — who got pilloried for their decision to honor contractual obligations — might be laughing at the irony?  I don’t, either.

But let’s make the comparison anyway.  The same Congress that just created this bonus plan objected to the exact same thing in the private sector while AIG and other TARP recipients received taxpayer subsidies.  They shrieked with horror when a company that lost money paid bonuses to its employees, even retention bonuses, and screamed about the use of taxpayer money to reward failure.

Every one of those criticisms applies to the House as well.  The deficit for the next ten years will go at least as high a $9 trillion.  This will be the fourth budget from the Democrats, and it will be even more unbalanced than the three that preceded it.  AIG’s waste of taxpayer dollars pales in comparison to the performance of Congress.  Why should we pay bonuses for Congressional aides when the House can’t pass a balanced budget?

I await with bated breath for ACORN and its affiliates to start another “rich hunt” in protest…