Wage controls

The President has decided to limit the salaries of the CEOs whose companies have received bailout money. In principle, I agree that if taxpayers are paying, some oversight is appropriate. I also think it should have been in the bailout rules in the first place. Some banks who were forced to take money they didn’t want might have resisted even more strongly.

Moreover, I think this principle requires us to look at the cost to taxpayers (not salaries, but millions in taxpayer funded payments to “production companies”) of, for example, employing Bill Moyers (at least $20 million from PBS in his career) and Jim Lehrer (his program refuses to even disclose it’s budget). I am sure other examples can be found.

I also wonder how competitively damaging this rule might be. That is, if you’ve got a real mess on your hands and you want someone to fix it, money may be less an object than if it’s smooth sailing. If you consider that companies with lesser problems and no bailout money will be able to offer more attractive salaries to the best talent, it could be the straw that breaks the banks.