Grassley doesn't actually want mass suicides at AIG

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    Although he said one of the options AIG executives should consider is suicide, Iowa Senator Charles Grassley said he was just speaking rhetorically.
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Come on, you didn’t expect AIG employees to put on black Nikes and start chanting about the return of Hale-Bopp, did you?

But the company is acting wounded in response to a comment Iowa Senator Charles Grassley made Monday in response to news that the organization rewarded executives with $165 million in bonuses after receiving a $173 billion bailout from American taxpayers.

Hara-kiri

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Grassley, speaking on an Iowa radio station yesterday, took it a little further than most when voicing his disgust over bonuses paid out to executives of American International Group.

One of the options he said they should consider is, GULP, ending it all!

“The first thing that would make me feel a little bit better towards them if they’d follow the Japanese example and come before the American people and take that deep bow and say I’m sorry, and then either do one of two things — resign, or go commit suicide.”

Rhetoric

Grassley appeared on MSNBC this morning and backed off a bit from his statement calling it rhetoric. (video below)

“What I’ve been expressing … is that we need to have that deep bow … with some sort of apology,” Grassley said, adding that the company needs to show “remorsefulness, contrition.”

So he didn’t mean the remark?

“I hope you recognize rhetoric,” Grassley told MSNBC’s David Shuster, “and I shouldn’t even have to answer that question….”

Take that, David!

Clarify

A spokesman told Reuters the same thing — it was not a literal call. He is not calling for mass suicides. And likely not introducing legislation for it.

No matter. AIG is hurt.

“The remark is very disappointing, but AIG’s employees continue to work with poise and professionalism to take care of policyholders and repay taxpayers,” AIG said in a statement.

Mad

AIG might be hurt from Grassley’s comments, but others are angry. Really angry — in what might be the first real show of bipartisanship all year. Republicans and Democrats are steaming mad.

“Americans are angry, I am angry: 4.5 million Americans have lost their jobs, and these people are getting bonuses, multi-million-dollar bonuses,” said Senate Finance Committee chairman Max Baucus, a Democrat.

“I think this is outrageous, and I think the American people are rightly outraged that their tax money is going to pay bonuses to the very people that got this company in trouble,” said House Minority Leader John Boehner.

Twitter

In a “Twitterview” with Senator John McCain this morning, ABC’s George Stephanopoulos asked the former presidential candidate if a “President McCain would break bonus contracts” to get the money back or stop the bonuses from being paid.

“I would have never bailed out AIG, the real scandal is billions to foreign banks,” McCain said.

But would he break the contracts?

“I would explore every option. I repeat, we wouldn’t have this problem if we hadn’t bailed them out,” McCain said.

Word is that House Republicans will be introducing legislation directing Treasury to get the bonuses back.

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