President Barack Obama told Bloomberg BusinessWeek on Tuesday that he does not “begrudge” JPMorgan Chase & Co. for giving a $17 million bonus to Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon, or Goldman Sachs Group, Inc., for giving a $9 million bonus to CEO Lloyd Blankfein.
“I know both those guys; they are very savvy businessmen,” Obama said in an interview with Bloomberg BusinessWeek on Tuesday. “I, like most of the American people, don’t begrudge people’s success or wealth. That is part of the free-market system.”
Obama commended Dimon and Blankfein for taking their bonuses in stock rather than cash, and encouraged other CEOs to do the same. But he reiterated that awarding such compensation “requires proven performance over a certain period of time as opposed to quarterly earnings.”
He also called for companies to give shareholders a larger say in CEO bonus distribution, saying that such a measure “serves as a restraint and helps align performance with pay.”
His words were meant to combat Fox News and conservative talk radio’s running narrative, which constantly pushes the fear that Obama is a socialist who wants to redistribute wealth from the rich to the poor. But Obama’s statements ruffled feathers at liberal media outlets, such as the Huffington Post, which complained that Obama “still doesn’t get it,” and argued that his “only political chance is to take on the too-big-to-fail banks directly and clearly.”
The moral of the story: it is physically impossible for the President to do or say anything that doesn’t piss off people who dig themselves into the far fringes of the left and right.