Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson today told a House committee he was open to considering limits on executive compensation in the Bush administrations proposed $700 billion bailout package for the nations financial institutions.
But in a statement before the House Financial Services Committee this afternoon, Mr. Paulson did not explain how the provision would work.
Many lawmakers have called for limits in the compensation of executives whose companies benefit from a federal bailout. Mr. Paulson opposed the proposal as recently as Tuesday, but in opening remarks to the House panel today, Mr. Paulson said he had changed his mind.
The American people are angry about executive compensation, and rightly so, Mr. Paulson said. Many of you cite this as a serious problem, and I agree. We must find a way to address this issue in this legislation without undermining the effectiveness of this program, Mr. Paulson said.
Among the other legislative changes that lawmakers are seeking are ones that would roll out the Treasurys spending authority under the program in stages, with an initial authorization of $150 billion, and requiring large financial institutions to contribute premiums to a new federal agency similar to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. in the banking industry. The premiums could be used to help with any future bailouts.
Also today, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke warned Congress Joint Economic Committee of great threats to the U.S. financial system and economy, which required extraordinary measures.
Various money-market rates continued to rise as banks shied away from lending amid uncertainty about the U.S. rescue plan. But markets got some comfort from billionaire Warren Buffetts decision to invest $5 billion in Goldman Sachs Group Inc., which is planning to convert into a bank holding company. Mr. Buffett described the current situation as a financial Pearl Harbor.
Separately, the White House announced that President Bush will speak on the financial crisis and the bailout proposal in a national TV address at 9 p.m. EDT today.