Bank bailout, or bailing out bankers?
"Banks that have their hands out in Washington this year were handing out multimillion-dollar rewards to their executives last year.
The 116 banks that so far have received taxpayer dollars to boost them through the economic crisis gave their top tier of executives nearly $1.6 billion in salaries, bonuses and other benefits in 2007, an Associated Press analysis found.
That amount, spread among the 600 highest paid bank executives, would cover the bailout money given to 53 of the banks that have shared the $188 billion that Washington has doled out in rescue packages so far.
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The AP review comes amid sharp questions about the banks' commitment to the goals of the Troubled Assets Relief Program, a law designed to buy bad mortgages and other troubled assets. Last month, the Bush administration changed the program's goals, instructing the Treasury Department to pump tax dollars directly into banks to prevent wide economic collapse.
The program set restrictions on some executive compensation for participating banks, but did not limit salaries and bonuses unless they had the effect of encouraging excessive risk to the institution."