Versailles 1789 levels of corruption
Politico had an usually enlightening article earlier this week that showed in no uncertain terms that there is only one party in Washington.
American International Group — once one of the most scorned corporations on Capitol Hill for its pivotal role in the financial crisis — got a Washington birthday bash on Monday night with help from House lawmakers.
Little more than a decade after the U.S. government committed $180 billion to avert the collapse of the insurance giant, AIG used the hearing room of the House Ways and Means Committee to host a "centennial congressional reception” to mark the New York-based company's first century in business.
"AIG used the hearing room of the House Ways and Means Committee" has got to be one of the most offensive statements I've ever read. This is shameless.
Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal (D-Mass.) presided over the event, which featured AIG CEO Brian Duperreault and other company leaders.
"We believe in the power of relationships to make a better world for everyone," AIG said in an invitation obtained by POLITICO.
The packed reception had waiters offering trays of snacks, an open bar serving a signature "Centennial Smash" cocktail and an a cappella group that closed with the Pharrell Williams hit "Happy."
More importantly, it had bipartisan support, with senior House members from both parties in attendance alongside finance industry lobbyists.
"AIG will live forever in history as the poster child for greed, recklessness and incompetent if not delusional management," said Dennis Kelleher, who advocates for stricter Wall Street regulation as president and CEO of the group Better Markets.
But things have returned to normal for the storied insurer in recent years, as the company shrank itself and paid back the bailout funds. AIG has ramped up lobbying and restarted spending by its political action committee.
In 2017, AIG was successful in convincing federal regulators to undo the company's designation as a "systemically important financial institution" — a label imposed on the insurer after the Wall Street meltdown that carried with it stricter government oversight.
No wonder so many people want to see the whole building burn down.
In case you've forgotten, AIG paid nearly $200 million in bonuses straight out of the taxpayer bailout.
And that's only the start.
Late on Tuesday, the central bank lent $12 billion to AIG. The next day, it lent another $12 billion. This was only the beginning. The AIG operation became a gigantic spigot for circuitously distributing public money to private banking interests. As the New York Fed pumped more money into AIG, the insurance giant pumped it right out the door to satisfy the demands from counterparties like Goldman Sachs. Having helped scuttle the private rescue, Goldman collected $13 billion from this backdoor public assistance. The Fed did not stop AIG’s hemorrhage. It began financing it, with no questions asked.
If you're not angry then you are not paying attention.