Suppose you owned almost eighty percent of the stock of AIG. Maybe you could force the people getting bonuses to give them back or refuse to take them in the first place. But an agent for that big stockholder says, in effect, "not so fast."
The stockholder in this case is the United States Government. Senator McCaskill, in this case, is the representative who says the United States government cannot demand a stockholders meeting and it cannot force a stockholder vote that could change anything, including the issuance of the contractually-assured bonuses. The reason: the government owns the wrong kind of stock, at least for this purpose. "It is preferred stock," she says, "which is good because we’re first in line to get the money out. We’re first in line to make sure we get dividends which I think we all preferred as opposed to us trying to run the company." But she says somebody in a stockholders meeting should have raised the issue of those bonuses.
McCaskill says the federal government needs a single watchdog over the AIG operations and use of bailout funds. Right now, though, she says oversight is split between the Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve System. She says one agency needs to be looking over AIG’s shoulder every hour of every day.