AIG CEO Ed Liddy takes to the Washington Post op-ed page today to try to explain why he paid $165 million to employees in the unit that destroyed the company. Here’s the short version:
You (meaning the U.S. government, specifically Timothy Geithner) asked me to leave a comfortable retirement and run this collapsing company with an eye toward minimizing the taxpayers’ losses and containing the economic fallout. I didn’t make this mess, and I don’t stand to gain financially from cleaning it up. Now, are you going to let me do my job or not?
I find the bonus payments as distasteful as anyone, but micromanaging Ed Liddy’s every move is not a recipe for recouping the taxpayers’ involuntary investment in AIG. If the Obama administration thinks Liddy is doing such a terrible job, it should fire him and hire someone else to run the company — after all, the taxpayers own it. But unless the adminstration thinks Liddy is disastrously off course, it owes it to him to defend his decisions from preying political opportunists on the Hill and in the media.