CNBC Host Accuses Dem Congressman of ‘Witch Huntery’ on AIG Retroactive Tax

March 20th, 2009 7:09 PM

For the second day in a row, CNBC "Squawk on the Street" co-host Mark Haines took on a Democratic congressman over the issue that American International Group (AIG) paid out too much in bonuses for a company that received federal bailout money.

On March 19, Haines took on alleged tax cheat Charles Rangel, questioning whether or not he should be dictating tax policy while the House Ethics Committee investigates him for his tax problems.  On CNBC's March 20 "Squawk on the Street," Haines took on Rep. Brad Sherman, D-Calif. on the issue.

Sherman contended the 90-percent tax on bonuses exceeding $250,000 that the House passed 328-93 didn't go far enough. He said a government receivership would have been the proper way to handle AIG, and not the bailout method the federal government employed. 

Haines insisted a receivership would have caused a systemic collapse of the banking system. Sherman fired back by replying the people of Main Street would disagree and the two had a back-and-forth exchange as to who was more appropriate to determine what was good for the banking system - Wall Street or Main Street.

However, Haines interjected his opinion of Congress' handling of the entire situation.

"You know, this is witch huntery, I'll be perfectly honest with you," Haines said. "You and people who share your opinions seem to feel that you know, let's hold salaries on Wall Street to $100,000. Do you have any idea what Wall Street would look like if they did that?"

The eventual result according to Haines would be the collapse of Wall Street as we know it and the large financial institutions would relocate to other countries.

"All the business would go overseas," Haines said. "That's the bottom line."

To his credit, Sherman voted against the original Troubled Asset Relief Program bailout last year and garnered a lot of attention when he said "a few members were even told that there would be martial law in America."