“First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win.” – Mahatma Gandhi

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Isakson Criticizes AIG Bonuses, Repeats Call for Independent Commission to Investigate Near Collapse of Banking System

‘We Must Begin to Find the Answers That the American People Demand’

During a speech on the Senate floor, U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., today criticized the $165 million in bonuses and retention pay distributed by the American International Group and repeated his call to create a Financial Markets Commission to fully investigate the near collapse of the banking system and the loss of tens of trillions of dollars.

“We were all reminded yesterday when word of the AIG bonus payouts hit the news of the frustration the American people have with the financial difficulties this nation is experiencing. We must begin to find the answers that all of us seek and that the American public demands,” Isakson said. “I urge my colleagues to look at the Financial Markets Commission. We can learn from the mistakes that have been made, we can put in the transparency necessary to prevent it from happening in the future and we can restore the confidence of the American people.”

On Jan. 22, Isakson and Kent Conrad, D-N.D., introduced legislation to create a seven-member, bipartisan Financial Markets Commission. The commission is modeled after the 9-11 Commission, which thoroughly and independently investigated the failures leading up to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and made sound recommendations on where we needed to improve to prevent another attack in the future.

Likewise, the Financial Markets Commission will have one year to investigate all the circumstances that led to this financial crisis. The panel will have the authority to refer to the U.S. Attorney General and state attorneys general any evidence that institutions or individuals may have violated existing laws. At the end of its investigation, the Commission will report to the President and to the Congress its recommendations for statutory or regulatory changes necessary to protect our country from a repeat of this financial collapse.

This bipartisan Commission shall include two appointees by the President and one appointee each from the Speaker of the House, the House Republican Leader, the Senate Democratic Leader, the Senate Republican Leader and the Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System.

Co-sponsors of the legislation include Sens. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., John Cornyn, R-Texas, Bill Nelson, D-Fla., James Risch, R-Idaho, Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, and Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I.

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