Daily Video

January 30, 2009

Obama Asks Bankers to Act Responsibly

President Obama lashed out at Wall Street over reports that bank executives collected more than $18 billion in bonuses last year, while some of their companies received billions of dollars in aid from the government. “That is the height of irresponsibility. It is shameful,” the president said. The Obama administration and lawmakers have begun to consider ways to control executive pay and other excesses by putting conditions on the bailout fund, known as the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP. The president’s comments come after public outrage at reports that John Thain, the former Merrill Lynch executive, spent $87,000 on a rug and $35,000 on an antique toilet. The Obama administration also forced Citigroup, which received an infusion of taxpayer funds last year, to abandon plans to buy a $50 million corporate jet. The first part of the video has the press conference with the president, and the second part moves to the debate over the stimulus package, which Republicans in the House refused to vote for.

Quotes

“Part of what we’re going to need is for the folks on Wall Street who are asking for help to show some restraint, and show some discipline, and show some sense of responsibility.” -President Barack Obama “There will be time for them to make profits, and there will be time for them to get bonuses. Now is not that time.” -President Barack Obama “Secretary Geithner already had to pull back one institution that had gone forward with a multimillion-dollar jet plane purchase at the same time as they’re receiving TARP money. We shouldn’t have to do that, because they should know better.” -President Barack Obama

Warm Up Questions

1. What does it mean to take responsibility for something?

2. How can you tell if someone is behaving responsibly or not?

3. How much do you think the president of a bank makes per year?

Discussion Questions

1. What do you think of President Obama’s statements?

2. Some bankers argue that if their employees are not paid a lot, the good ones will go work for another organization that will pay them more. What do you think of this argument?

3. Make a list of professions: banker, a teacher, the president, etc. Research how much those positions make. What does the differences in salaries say about our society?

4. How do you think this recession will affect how much different professions are paid and what lines of work are most popular?

Additional Resources

Read the transcript

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