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The buck stops with me: Obama

March 19, 2009 10:17 IST

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AIG's 'bonus from bailout money' angers Obama

As Americans continued to oppose the bonuses in millions being doled out to executives of the AIG, which has received federal bailout package, American President Barack Obama said that the buck stops with him and rescuing countrymen from the crisis was his ultimate goal.

"The buck stops with me. My goal is to make sure that we never put ourselves in this kind of position again," Obama said when asked about the $165 million bonuses paid out to American International Group executives.

The whole issue of AIG and these bonuses that have been paid out have been consuming a lot of attention -- and rightfully so, because they represent what all Americans consider an inappropriate use of taxpayer funds, he said.

Taking pledge to clean up the present mess, Obama assured that he would make sure this does not happen again.

"Rather than going into sort of the details of finding it out, ultimately I'm responsible, I'm the President of the US," Obama said in response to a question on the South Lawn of the White House before leaving for California.

"We've got a big mess that we're having to clean up. Nobody here drafted those contracts. Nobody here was responsible for supervising AIG and allowing themselves to put the economy at risk by some of the outrageous behaviour that they were engaged in," he said.

Acknowledging the anger of people over the bonuses being paid to AIG executives, Obama said: "What I want us to do, though, is channel our anger in a constructive way."

"People are rightly outraged about these particular bonuses. But just as outrageous is the culture that these bonuses are a symptom of, that have existed for far too long -- a situation where excess greed, excess compensation, excess risk-taking have all made us vulnerable and left us holding the bag," he said.

"It's appropriate for us to have some regulatory mechanisms in place to ensure that we never have a situation where the government has to step in, or you've got taxpayers who are having to foot the bill for other people's mistakes," he said.

Obama said his interest is not protecting banks, but to protect American people; the people's 401(k)s; ordinary folks who have a credit line with a bank for their small business; people whose pension funds are invested in some of these financial institutions. "The prospect of all of that unraveling would have been unacceptable -- an unacceptable risk," he said.



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