The stupidity and pettiness of Christopher Dodd

Ed Lasky
Connecticut Senator Christopher Dodd, beneficiary of nepotism (his father was a beloved Senator from Connecticut), sweetheart mortgage deals, and the number one beneficiary of Wall Street donations –at least until Barack Obama came along-turns around and bites the hands that have fed him so well over the years.

All for political gain. Yet his moves to punish, and treat in a child-like way, high quality performers in the financial world will backfire and cause untold losses to our economy. Fortune magazine reports on Dodd’s stealthy last minute moves to slip onerous restrictions in the “stimulus” packag : 

When Senator Chris Dodd, (D-Connecticut) crammed what he dubbed "tough new limits" on "lavish Wall Street bonuses" into the stimulus package, he may have created a bigger problem for the economy than the one he was trying to solve. The reason? His plan inadvertently rewards nonperformance and will drive talented financiers away from the companies that need them most.

"There will be a flood of top performers leaving for positions that have no restrictions," says Richard Smith of the Sibson compensation consulting firm. The pay rules "will slow the only financial engine that can pull the economy out of this mess."

Senator Dodd tacked 11 pages of pay restrictions onto the stimulus bill at the last minute. (Dodd's office didn't return a call seeking comment.) The main reason they'll backfire is that they make pay for performance, otherwise known as bonuses, illegal beyond a modest allowance, yet they permit unlimited pay for nonperformance. An executive may be paid a guaranteed base salary of any size but may not receive a bonus exceeding one-third of total pay. And even that minor bonus cannot be based on profits; the rules prohibit any pay plan "that would encourage manipulation of the reported earnings" of the firm, which is of course what any plan based on profits would encourage. So paying top executives in any sensible way is forbidden

Another consequence of the new legislation is that it will drive the craftiest financial minds away from the most troubled institutions. The new rules apply to the five highest-paid executives, plus at least the next 20 highest-paid employees at the largest firms getting TARP funds - "at least" the next 20 because the Treasury Secretary can extend the rules to cover even more employees.

Dodd gets downright petty, too.

Senator Dodd's attempt to turn masters of the universe into bureaucrats even extends to where they dine. Instead of using the Zagat guide, TARP recipients may be expected to work from a list of restaurants "identified by the Secretary" of the Treasury, since by law he must now specify which entertainment expenditures are "excessive." Thus, a Washington civil servant could end up judging whether a Manhattan banker can take good customers to dinner at Per Se, or whether TGIF might be elegant enough to close a deal. Your tax dollars at work.

Of course, Democrats in Congress-and the big kahuna in the Oval Office-seem downright devoted to destroying the financial sector in America (see "Banks Get Clobbered on Hill" ). Geithner fiddles while Wall Street-and Main Street-burns. Geithner can’t even find a staff willing to work for him and Barack Obama, so  how absurd is it for Dodd to require Geithner to scrutinize the menus of dining establishments around America?

Think he has anything better to do? Does Dodd?


Connecticut Senator Christopher Dodd, beneficiary of nepotism (his father was a beloved Senator from Connecticut), sweetheart mortgage deals, and the number one beneficiary of Wall Street donations –at least until Barack Obama came along-turns around and bites the hands that have fed him so well over the years.

All for political gain. Yet his moves to punish, and treat in a child-like way, high quality performers in the financial world will backfire and cause untold losses to our economy. Fortune magazine reports on Dodd’s stealthy last minute moves to slip onerous restrictions in the “stimulus” packag : 

When Senator Chris Dodd, (D-Connecticut) crammed what he dubbed "tough new limits" on "lavish Wall Street bonuses" into the stimulus package, he may have created a bigger problem for the economy than the one he was trying to solve. The reason? His plan inadvertently rewards nonperformance and will drive talented financiers away from the companies that need them most.

"There will be a flood of top performers leaving for positions that have no restrictions," says Richard Smith of the Sibson compensation consulting firm. The pay rules "will slow the only financial engine that can pull the economy out of this mess."

Senator Dodd tacked 11 pages of pay restrictions onto the stimulus bill at the last minute. (Dodd's office didn't return a call seeking comment.) The main reason they'll backfire is that they make pay for performance, otherwise known as bonuses, illegal beyond a modest allowance, yet they permit unlimited pay for nonperformance. An executive may be paid a guaranteed base salary of any size but may not receive a bonus exceeding one-third of total pay. And even that minor bonus cannot be based on profits; the rules prohibit any pay plan "that would encourage manipulation of the reported earnings" of the firm, which is of course what any plan based on profits would encourage. So paying top executives in any sensible way is forbidden

Another consequence of the new legislation is that it will drive the craftiest financial minds away from the most troubled institutions. The new rules apply to the five highest-paid executives, plus at least the next 20 highest-paid employees at the largest firms getting TARP funds - "at least" the next 20 because the Treasury Secretary can extend the rules to cover even more employees.

Dodd gets downright petty, too.

Senator Dodd's attempt to turn masters of the universe into bureaucrats even extends to where they dine. Instead of using the Zagat guide, TARP recipients may be expected to work from a list of restaurants "identified by the Secretary" of the Treasury, since by law he must now specify which entertainment expenditures are "excessive." Thus, a Washington civil servant could end up judging whether a Manhattan banker can take good customers to dinner at Per Se, or whether TGIF might be elegant enough to close a deal. Your tax dollars at work.

Of course, Democrats in Congress-and the big kahuna in the Oval Office-seem downright devoted to destroying the financial sector in America (see "Banks Get Clobbered on Hill" ). Geithner fiddles while Wall Street-and Main Street-burns. Geithner can’t even find a staff willing to work for him and Barack Obama, so  how absurd is it for Dodd to require Geithner to scrutinize the menus of dining establishments around America?

Think he has anything better to do? Does Dodd?