GOP quietly opposing executive pay limits

They're not rushing out to talk about it, but elected Republicans say they're against limiting compensation as a condition of bank bailouts.

Published February 6, 2009 5:05PM (EST)

It's not exactly great politics these days to say you favor Wall Street executives getting paid more, not less.

Still, given the GOP's usual public stance on economic matters and government interference, it was a little surprising not to see them put up any fight whatsoever about President Obama's decision to restrict the pay of executives at banks that have received TARP funding. They even let the amendments that added the proposal to the stimulus package pass by a voice vote.

And they're still not rushing out to oppose the idea. But, as the Huffington Post's Ryan Grim reported after going down to Capitol Hill and asking individual Republican members of Congress, there's still plenty of hesitation over the plan in the GOP.

"What executives have done is troubling, but it's equally troubling to have government telling shareholders how much they can pay the executives," Florida Sen. Mel Martinez told Grim.

Oklahoma Sen. James Inhofe, showing why he has a reputation for understatement, said, "[A]s I was listening to [Obama] make those statements, I thought, is this still America? Do we really tell people how to run [a business], and who to pay and how much to pay?"

There are some Republicans who favor the plan, like Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback, who said, "People are livid about these big bonuses and if the groups want to take government money it seems they should be able to have some limits on these bonuses. If they don't need it, don't want it, fine. Don't take it."

By Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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