Beware of the paraphrased Quote: Does Obama love bank bonuses?


Liberals smell a rat in the White House! How dare Obama say this! How dare it!

President Barack Obama said he doesn’t “begrudge” the $17 million bonus awarded to JPMorgan Chase & Co. Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon or the $9 million issued to Goldman Sachs Group Inc. CEO Lloyd Blankfein, noting that some athletes take home more pay.

via Obama Doesn’t ‘Begrudge’ Bonuses for Blankfein, Dimon (Update1) –

What? You think they deserve it Obama! What did my fellow liberal bloggers and Obama supporters do to deserve this BETRAYAL?!

Apparently Obama wanted to make sure the CEOs know he’s on their side too. I mean, the poor CEOs have had their itty-bitty feelings hurt so much lately. Will you shed a tear with me in honor of the hard work these Wall Streeters do for the country even if we have to bail them out when they screw it up on a cataclysmic scale?

via Did he really say that? | Crooks and Liars.

Except, that ain’t what he said. Here is the relevant excerpt from Business Week:

QUESTION: Let’s talk bonuses for a minute: Lloyd Blankfein, $9 million; Jamie Dimon, $17 million. Now, granted, those were in stock and less than what some had expected. But are those numbers okay?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, look, first of all, I know both those guys. They’re very savvy businessmen. And I, like most of the American people, don’t begrudge people success or wealth. That’s part of the free market system. I do think that the compensation packages that we’ve seen over the last decade at least have not matched up always to performance. I think that shareholders oftentimes have not had any significant say in the pay structures for CEOs.

via Don’t “Begrudge” Obama His Bloomberg Interview – The Atlantic Business Channel.

Bloomberg’s chopped up quotes from the Bloomberg/Business Week interview to get a bunch of juicy SEO ready link backs from all the bloggers. They removed the caveat of success from the Obama’s “who deserves a bonus” equation. Obama clearly stated the bonuses of wall street execs don’t match their performance as execs and shareholders do not have appropriate input to executive compensations. It wasn’t barn burner, I hate Wall Street populist rant, but this president is not that guy and never will be. In my opinion, it comes off lame when he tries to be. Regardless, it is a statement that’s pretty consistent with his prior rhetoric.

My point here is that we need to stop trusting interpretations of politicians quotes when they are paraphrased, especially in business news sources. Everyone trusted the Bloomberg interpretation, which is at best an over simplification and at worst a bold distortion. The way Obama’s position is presented by Bloomberg (Obama does not begrudge Dimon and Blanfein’s bonuses) is simply different from Obama’s stated opinion: there is nothing wrong with bonuses as long as bonuses reflect performance, and shareholders have an appropriate say in compensation criteria for executives.