The New York Times‘ Kate Phillips attended this morning’s House hearing on AIG, and reports that Barney Frank told AIG CEO Ed Liddy that the U.S. Government effectively owns AIG. He did not fire Liddy on the spot, alas, but he did suggest to his colleagues, “Let’s bring a lawsuit as the owners against the people who did damage to the company.” He also threatened subpoenas to reveal the names of the bonus babies who got $165 million, though New York AG Andrew Cuomo has done that already. Liddy defended the bonuses as “legal obligations,” though he added, “some of which I find distasteful.”
Republicans have expectedly been beating up Tim Geithner this morning for being slow to recognize the problem. (Geithner is now demanding the bonus money be returned.) But they’ve taken some shots at AIG, too. “Where is the outrage over the fact that AIG is paying billions of dollars for 100 percent of what it owes to UBS and to Barclays and Deutsche Bank?” said Jersey’s Scott Garrett. (“Agog at AIG hearing,” tweets libertarian Dave Weigel. “So many Republicans threatening to break into AIG HQ and take money back.” “Honestly,” responds lefty Brad Reed, “I’ll cheer ’em on if they do that.”)
Our favorite bit so far is Gary Ackerman calling AIG’s product “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Insurance.” Equally non-sequiturally, he added, “It’s a funny joke I made up, but all of us who are laughing are crying and getting angry and enraged,” an image that will haunt us all through lunch.