I’m hearing this talking point a lot, the latest example being from Eugene Robinson in The Washington Post, in the context of Republicans demanding UAW wage cuts:
Funny, I don’t recall a cry from Senate Republicans for salary caps on the stockbrokers whose jobs were saved in the Wall Street bailout.
It simply isn’t true that compensation restrictions were not part of bailout demands from the right (loosely defined). Here’s Mel Martinez on September 22:
Placing conditions on pay for corporate executives who participate in a proposed Wall Street bailout plan enjoys broad support in Congress, a Republican member of the U.S. Senate Banking Committee said on Monday.
Speaking to reporters after meeting with other banking committee members, Sen. Mel Martinez of Florida said: “That’s an issue, on a bipartisan basis, I think everybody wants to see something done on.”
Also in favor of limits were John McCain and Mitch McConnell, who made limits on executive pay one of the conditions of the bailout. It was former bank executive Paulson and the White House that opposed limits on executive pay.
Now, of course, the limits turned out to be as toothless as the bailout is useless, but this particular talking point is yet another illustration of how the Wall Street bailout can be used unscrupulously to reinforce the prejudice that “free-marketers” are all about exploiting the working man for the benefit of the rich. Give them an inch, as they say, and they’ll take a mile.