Pay Czar Kenneth Feinberg: Yes, I Am Completely Irrelevant

Obama’s pay czar Kenneth Feinberg confirmed what everyone has long known today when he weighed in on the year-end bonus of Lloyd Blankfein, CEO of Goldman Sachs: Feinberg is irrelevant. 

The key points from today’s interview with Bloomberg:

  • Feinberg “consulted” with Blankfein about the Goldman bonuses
  • Goldman “followed [Feinberg’s] prescriptions” about how bonuses should be paid
  • Feinberg thinks Blankfein’s $9 million bonus is “too high”
  • Feinberg has no authority over the Goldman bonuses

This begs several questions:

  • Why did Feinberg consult with Blankfein about the Goldman bonuses if he has no authority over Goldman?  Does he have nothing better to do?
  • Why is Blankfein’s $9 million bonus “too high” if Goldman followed Feinberg’s prescriptions about bonuses?  (Also, how can $9 million in stock in a record year be too high when Blankfein didn’t take a bonus at all last year?  What would have been appropriate?  Are the bonuses of hundreds of other Goldman bigshots also too high?)
  • What, exactly, DOES Feinberg have authority over?

Bloomberg provides the answer to the last question:

Feinberg now oversees pay packages for executives of American International Group Inc., Chrysler Group LLC, Chrysler Financial Corp., General Motors Co. and GMAC Inc.

So a senior government official has the responsibility of overseeing pay at exactly five companies (three, really, if you treat the Chrysler and GM entities as single companies).  Seems like a GREAT use of taxpayer resources.  Well, at least he’s responsible for something

But it prompts us to ask again, why is Feinberg wasting taxpayer time and money on Goldman Sachs?  Is it because he wants it to seem as though he’s doing his job and being “tough on Wall Street” when in fact he’s doing exactly nothing?

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