CNN political analyst Roland Martin ripped President Obama from the left on Wednesday’s Newsroom, after the White House announced that they were going to cut the pay of top executives at corporations which took taxpayer money from the federal government for bailouts: “It’s about damn time. The White House, frankly, has been slow in actually making this happen.”
Near the end of the 3 pm Eastern hour, anchor Rick Sanchez broke the news about the Obama administration’s decision to “put the kaputs on some of these big-timers with some of these Wall Street firms like AIG, and they are apparently going to ask them to take a cut in annual salaries of their 25 highest paid executives by an average...of 90% from last year.” Sanchez brought on Martin to comment on this breaking news, and the analyst’s reaction was unequivocally critical of the administration’s inaction in going after executive pay.
SANCHEZ: Roland- man, 90%, that’s a lot of dough.
ROLAND MARTIN: It’s a lot of money, but also it’s about damn time. The White House, frankly, has been slow in actually making this happen. They have been making all these pronouncements, talking about- oh, you guys should watch it, but there’s been all bark and no bite....The bottom line is this here- these companies have been reporting strong earnings because they have been cutting staff, they have putting cutting expenses- they have not been growing revenue. So when the Dow hit 10,000 last week on the strength of those reports, it was because of the cuts they were making, so the people who have been laid off, the folks losing their jobs- they are the ones paying the price while these fat cats are sitting and getting our money and you’re sitting here saying you’re getting these astronomical bonuses, awarding more money in bonuses in 2009 than they were awarding two and three years ago? Nonsense! It’s about time the White House finally stepped up and said, we are going to go after you guys because this is ridiculous.
Sanchez actually followed up by asking Martin a question from right: “What do you say to the people who say- you know what, a deal is a deal. We had a contract. If I sign a contract with you, Roland Martin, that says that this year you have to pay me a certain amount, don’t you have to pay me a certain amount, no matter what?” The CNN analyst brushed this argument aside: “Okay, okay. Here’s also the deal. You guys also were in business, you made some bad decisions, then you should go out of business. See, that’s the deal. They don’t want to go out of business. We had to bail them out.” The anchor asked for a clarification: “So what you’re saying is if we hadn’t come in and saved their butts to begin with, they wouldn’t have had these bonuses or any other bonuses, so the argument is null and void?” Martin answered, “No! They wouldn’t.”
Martin continued his criticism of Obama from the left as the segment closed, even as Sanchez cynically wondered if the President’s inaction had anything to do with his receiving donations from “Wall Street guys:”
SANCHEZ: Speaking of the President, by the way, I know you were quite critical of him there moments ago, saying that this is something he should have done a long time ago. He’s-
MARTIN: Why have a pay czar, Rick, if you’re not going to move? We- this is now October. We have been hearing about bonuses since February over and over and over, so why do you wait now? Let’s just be real here, Rick.
SANCHEZ: Well, well, I’ll tell you- well, let me just toss a possibility out there for you, all right? And it's not just this president, but- by the way, since we’re going to name names, this president has taken about as much money from some of these Wall Street guys for his campaigns as just about any other politician out there-
MARTIN: Politicians take money.
SANCHEZ: Well, okay, fine. But do you go and punish yourself that way by going after the Wall Street guys, when these are the guys who basically fund your campaign?
MARTIN: I don’t care if they fund your campaigns. The bottom line is here- they got taxpayer money. You cannot sit here and say- oh, we’re going to keep laying off the American worker but I’m still going to get a big fat bonus. That’s how we do it.