Reining in AIG's spending

Tracy Coenen

Following the taxpayer-funded bailout of American International Group (AIG) tales of spa trips, canceled spa trips, hunting extravaganzas, and executive bonuses have been irritating consumers nationwide.

Whether you consider the "bailout" to be merely a loan to get AIG through hard times or corporate welfare (or something in between), the fact is that taxpayers are helping save the company.

It's no surprise, then, that ordinary folks like you and me are awfully interested in how AIG is spending its money. After all, when we go through rough financial times, we usually cut back on all the extras. Good news came Wednesday that the former CEO Martin Sullivan will not receive $19 million in severance payments (for now, anyway) and a $600 million pot of bonus money won't be distributed.

These two items might be chump change in light of the almost $123 billion in credit lines the government has made available to AIG, but even holding back on this spending (which amounts to less than 1% of the total the government has offered up) sends an important message: If you want taxpayer help, you better be willing to cut any and all corners necessary to be a responsible recipient of the money.