Senior White House economic adviser Christina Romer offered a preemptive plea on Sunday for bailed out Wall Street firms to exercise restraint when it comes to dolling out this year's bonuses. Asked what the president could do to curb the payouts, the chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisers pledged that Obama would "redouble" his efforts at regulatory reform as a means of tackling compensation and other financial practices.
"I sure hope so," Romer told ABC's This Week, when asked if banks would heed Obama's warning not to dole out record bonuses this year (as they are reportedly set to do). "We have had to provide so much support for the financial system. It was the right thing to do for the American people, because we know that when credit stops the economy stops. But we provided extraordinary aid and the idea that as the financial system heals, they just go back to business as usual, is simply outrageous."
The outrage Romer expressed over executive compensation was not a new message from this administration. Host George Stephanopoulos -- noting the exasperated look on Romer's face -- asked what tools the administration had at its disposal.
"What we are going to do is redouble our efforts for financial regulatory reform because that had, in it, sensible things like say on pay so at least the shareholders are minding the store. Sensible things like saying, for heaven's sakes, compensation should be focused on long-term so that you don't have rewards for short-term risk taking," Romer replied. "We simply have to put in place rules of the road so that this system doesn't bring the economy to the edge of collapse like it did a year or so ago."
In a separate appearance on CNN's "State of the Union," Romer was also asked about the plan of bailed-out financial institutions to provide record bonuses to its workers.
"For heaven's sake, people, it does seem really ridiculous," she said.