Obama Praises His Pay Czar for Executive Pay Cuts

ABC News' Sunlen Miller reports:

President Obama praised his pay czar Ken Feinberg today for taking “an important step forward today” by announcing that executive salaries will be severely cut at businesses with taxpayer financed bailout money.

“He was faced with the difficult task of striking the proper balance between standing up for taxpayers and retuning a measure of stability to our financial system,” President Obama said of Feinberg’s role today while in the East Room. “Under these competing interests, I believe he’s taken an important step forward today in curbing the influence of executive compensation on Wall Street, while still allowing these companies to succeed and prosper.”

Seven companies receiving "exceptional" amounts of taxpayer aid will slash the annual salaries for their 25 top executives by an average of around 90 percent from 2008 levels, per Feinberg’s orders.

The president noted that Feinberg’s decision was an “independent judgment,” based on the task that his administration had given him in June he was appointed to look at on the executive pay packages for firms that receive extraordinary assistance from the government.

“This is America. We don’t disparage wealth. We don’t begrudge anybody for doing well. We believe in success. But it does offend our values when executives of big financial firms, firms that are struggling, pay themselves huge bonuses even as they continue to rely on taxpayer assistance to stay afloat.”

Obama said that “more work needs to be done” and called on Congress to pass legislation to give shareholders more of a voice.

“I urge the Senate to pass legislation that will give company shareholders a voice on the pay packages awarded to their executives. I urge congress to continue moving forward on financial reform that will help prevent the crisis we saw last fall from happening again.

The president made his remarks at the top of an event originally intended to sign the Veterans Health Care Budget Reform and Transparency Act into law.

-Sunlen Miller

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