The Campaign Spot

NPR, Cutting Obama Less Slack Than I Do

Obama, last night:

We just found out that AIG, a company that got a bailout, just a week after they got help went on a $400,000 junket. And I’ll tell you what, the Treasury should demand that money back and those executives should be fired.

NPR notes, “they were from the clean side of the company, the insurance side, not financial products division. That’s an important distinction.”

Now, I’m actually willing to cut Obama slack on this; if a company is getting federal aid, it shouldn’t be sending anybody on a junket that costs that much. I don’t care that it’s a subsidiary or a long-planned trip; $23,000 in “spa services” is the first place you cut in a crisis.

UPDATE: A reader writes in:

Some reality needs to be brought to this AIG spa issue… This “junket” was for the purpose of rewarding the agents that produce business for AIG.  These folks are not employees of the company (although a number of the attendees would be marketing or underwriting executives of AIG).  These independent agents can place business in whatever markets (other insurance companies) they choose.  So the industry goes to great lengths to promote loyalty to high volume, profitable and loyal agents.  I’m confident you can understand that the best underwriting, claims and investment insurance organization is not worth much if there is no business (or poor business) to underwrite.  Additionally such a “junket” would have been arranged months ago, perhaps even last year, for both planning purposes and incentive or marketing purposes.

I understand that the “junket” is an almost irresistible target for the punditocracy.  My hope is for occasional balance.

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