White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said the White House is pleased with yesterday's performance on Wall Street following the release of details of the Treasury Department's toxic asset plan, but cautioned against reading too much into a single day's trading.
(On Monday the Dow Jones Industrials jumped 497 points, or 6.8 percent, and logged its fifth largest single-day advance in history.)
Gibbs also didn't characterize the market's upbeat mood as "vindication" for a White House and Treasury official that have been feeling lots of heat of late.
"Look, Harry, I think we're not going to be judged by what happened yesterday or today in the market, but a year or two from now where people feel like they have a stable job, whether their income is growing, whether they can get a loan to buy a house or a car or send their child to school.
"I think what the American people are focused on more is this long-term recovery. We don't want to go from bust-to-bubble-to-bust economic growth anymore. I think the American people want to get back to sustained, long-term economic growth that provides them a good quality of life and a stable job, and that's what the president's focused on.
But he also didn't run away from (rare) good news: "Well, look, Harry, I'll take 500 points in that kind of news any day of the week," he said.
Geithner can also breathe a little easier, following President Obama's ringing endorsement of him on 60 Minutes Sunday. A CBS News poll found that 54 percent of Americans have confidence in Geithner, though 15 percent say they have none.
When asked how far the White House would go in placing controls on executive compensation, Gibbs said, "The president created a plan that was the strongest plan that had ever been put forward to ensure that executive compensation and bonuses don't get out of whack and out of line."
A new CBS News poll shows that 88 percent of respondents are either angry or bothered by the bonuses. The opinion of Mike Stahl of Peoria, Ill., was typical: "It appears people are being rewarded for doing a poor job."
Nearly as many (83 percent) said AIG could have found a way not to pay their employees bonuses. (The company has argued that the company was legally required to pay out bonuses due to contracts signed before the company ran in trouble.)
"Look, everyone in this country understands rewarding success. But obviously, excessive executive compensation has unfortunately become the norm, and it's understandable that people get upset about it," Gibbs said. "What we need to do is have some rationality in that system, understand that we're all in this together, that we all have to give a little. And with that, we can stabilize our economy."
At least the takeaway lesson this week is that public and governmental outrage works: Many top AIG executives have agreed to fork over their multi-million dollar bonuses, with employees returning a total of about $50 million. An additional $30 million may also be recovered. However, there are millions given out by AIG branches overseas, outside of U.S. jurisdiction.
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