Cuomo pulls back the curtain a little more

CUOMO PULLS BACK THE CURTAIN A LITTLE MORE…. What do you know, the AIG story can get worse.

Seventy-three employees were paid more than $1 million in the newly minted bonuses at the insurance giant, American International Group, according to the New York attorney general, Andrew M. Cuomo.

The attorney general provided some new details on Tuesday about some of the $160 million in bonuses that A.I.G. paid out last week in a letter sent to Representative Barney Frank, the chairman of the House Committee on Financial Services.

“A.I.G. made more than 73 millionaires in the unit which lost so much money that it brought the firm to its knees forcing a taxpayer bailout,” Mr. Cuomo wrote in the letter. “Something is deeply wrong with this outcome.”

Now, some have noted how foolish it is to pay those who failed “retention” bonuses to stick around and clean up the mess they created. But that’s what makes today’s revelations especially striking — 11 of the employees who received bonuses of more than $1 million no longer work for the company. One of the 11 received $4.6 million.

If these folks took the money and ran, doesn’t it defeat the purpose of a “retention” payment?

Senate Democrats continues to explore their options this morning. CNN reported that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced on the Senate floor Tuesday that the tax-writing Senate Finance Committee will pursue a legislative fix in such a way that the “recipients of those bonuses will not be able to keep all their money — and that’s an understatement.”

What’s more, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.), will follow up on an idea from Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) and propose a special tax on AIG within the next 24 hours.

And while the outrage seemed largely bipartisan yesterday, Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), the second highest ranking Republican in the chamber, started pushing back in the other direction this morning, accusing politicians of being quick to “demagogue” the AIG issue. Some far-right blogs are also, oddly enough, offering tacit defenses of AIG.

They appear to be in a shrinking minority.