Stephanopoulos Empathizes with Obama's 'Tough Dilemma'

The Obama administration is just flummoxed by the burdens of power, ABC's George Stephanopoulos fretted on Monday's World News. Discussing the public backlash over how AIG used bailout funds to pay bonuses, Stephanopoulos related that the White House feels “caught in a bind” between “populist anger” and appeasing the business community which only causes negative public reaction. “It's a tough dilemma,” he concluded.

Stephanopoulos lamented:
They feel caught in a bind. When they respond to this populist anger, they feel they get a very negative reaction from the business community and the stock market. When they try to appease the business community and the stock market, the public rises up. It's a tough dilemma.

(Chuck Todd put the AIG bonus payments in perspective, noting on the NBC Nightly News: "That $168 million in bonus money is a lot of money, but, believe it or not, it only accounts for less than one percent of the $180 billion that’s been given to AIG.")

The exchange on the Monday, March 16 World News:

CHARLES GIBSON: George, the administration's been very adamant they were watching how the money was spent. And now the one company that took the most has done the one thing that angers the public the most and that is to pay out these big bonuses. What's the long-term effect of that, of the attempt to bail out the financial industries?

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Charlie, it is just a killer. I spoke with Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill today, with administration officials, they all say that right now they know that there is no chance that Congress would approve any more money in the foreseeable future to help the banks or other entities right now. That is just dead on arrival right now. So the administration is working on this next phase of the bank plan to clean up these toxic assets. Hopefully, it will  come out in the next week or so, but it's all built around the idea that you're not going to get any new money right now.

And going forward, Charlie, they feel caught in a bind. When they respond to this populist anger, they feel they get a very negative reaction from the business community and the stock market. When they try to appease the business community and the stock market, the public rises up. It's a tough dilemma.
Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center