The spectacle of AIG executives receiving millions in bonus money may not be a pretty sight, but the reaction to it in Congress has not exactly been a thing of beauty either.
Iowa Republican Senator Grassley first suggested the bonus recipients should kill themselves, later saying he meant that only figuratively. Today, the usually straight-laced senator took another stab at expressing his outrage, complaining that AIG has been "sucking the tit of the taxpayer."
Michigan Republican Congressman Thaddeus McCotter announced Monday that AIG should be broken up, something Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke indicated on network television the night before was already underway. C'mon, McCotter, watch the news.
Then there was the parade of members from both parties to microphones to announce they would get the bonus money back by passing legislation that would tax it away from the recipients. Leading that parade was Connecticut Democratic Senator Dodd. He, of course, was one of the authors of the bailout legislation that allowed the government to buy into AIG in the first place. And he went along with language that exempted these very kinds of bonuses from restrictions on compensation paid by bailed out companies.
As for the effort to recover the money by taxing it away, there is a name for such after-the-fact legislation aimed at individuals. It's called a bill of attainder, and is forbidden by the constitution.