AIG CEO: Liberals are deadbeats

The head of the government-owned insurance company claims "culture" explains why business is better in red states

Topics: Bank Bailouts, How the World Works, Mortgage Crisis,

AIG CEO: Liberals are deadbeats(Credit: Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Could Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner please send someone over to AIG to slap some sense into CEO Robert Benmosche? I am aware that the man is undergoing chemotherapy in a fight against cancer, but that’s no excuse for the remarks he made at an insurance conference in Washington on Tuesday. According to Benmosche, cultural reasons explain why AIG’s mortgage insurance subsidiary is doing better in red states than blue states

“All of the states where we’re a leader, where we’re the No. 1 insurer, are red states, all of the states where we’re at the bottom are blue states,” Benmosche, 66, said yesterday at a conference in Washington. “Part of what we found out is that our model is about culture and it’s about the attitude in the public. And what we find is where there’s more of a tendency for people to be more liberal, more that the government is responsible for what happens to me.”

In other words, liberals are deadbeats. They’re not buying mortgage insurance because they’ll be happy to walk away from their loans, no doubt whistling “This Land is Your Land” while they shred their mortgage statements.

I am unaware of any hard numbers breaking down the political affiliations of homeowners who have gone into default on their mortgages. Of the states with the biggest housing busts, California, Florida, Nevada and Arizona, only California is firmly in the blue category. (Florida flips back and forth, but judging by the most recent state election results, is now definitely in the red.) So it’s hard to generalize from that data.

What I do know is that red states notoriously consume more federal dollars than they pay in taxes, for the very simple reason that red states tend to be poorer than blue states, and thus consume more than their fair share of such government benefits as Medicaid. So it might be prudent to exercise restraint when speculating about personal responsibility and the government dole according to which way electoral votes tend to fall.



And what’s absolutely indisputable is that AIG is the poster child for the entire category of “irresponsible company that had to be bailed out by the government.” AIG’s credit swap salesmen were ground zero for the financial crisis, and in order to prevent their recklessness from taking down the entire banking system with them,  the federal government poured as much as $180 billion into the company. The U.S. Treasury now owns 92 percent of the company.

That isn’t Benmosche’s fault, as he joined the circus long after the big tent had already gone up in flames, but you’d still think he could be a little more sensitive. The government, after all, is responsible for his company having the opportunity to make any profits whatsoever.

Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 13
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Api Étoile

    Like little stars.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Calville Blanc

    World's best pie apple. Essential for Tarte Tatin. Has five prominent ribs.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Chenango Strawberry

    So pretty. So early. So ephemeral. Tastes like strawberry candy (slightly).

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Chestnut Crab

    My personal fave. Ultra-crisp. Graham cracker flavor. Should be famous. Isn't.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    D'Arcy Spice

    High flavored with notes of blood orange and allspice. Very rare.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Esopus Spitzenberg

    Jefferson's favorite. The best all-purpose American apple.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Granite Beauty

    New Hampshire's native son has a grizzled appearance and a strangely addictive curry flavor. Very, very rare.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Hewes Crab

    Makes the best hard cider in America. Soon to be famous.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Hidden Rose

    Freak seedling found in an Oregon field in the '60s has pink flesh and a fragrant strawberry snap. Makes a killer rose cider.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Knobbed Russet

    Freak city.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Newtown Pippin

    Ben Franklin's favorite. Queen Victoria's favorite. Only apple native to NYC.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Pitmaston Pineapple

    Really does taste like pineapple.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>