Reverse payday

I'm still gathering my thoughts on bailout and regulatory solutions, hopefully for an omnibus post tomorrow morning.  Here's a question:  a lot of Democrats seem to want the Wall Street executives to disgorge things like their retirement packages and bonuses before cutting any deal.  Can Congress do this, legally?  I mean, yes, they make the law.  But my understanding is that while you can grandfather in benefits, you can't retroactively punish people for behavior that was legal when committed.  Can Congress reach in and retroactively void a private contract?  I'm not asking for commentary on the wisdom or morality of such a move, just whether it would withstand a court challenge.

Presented by

Megan McArdle is a columnist at Bloomberg View and a former senior editor at The Atlantic. Her new book is The Up Side of Down.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register with Disqus.

Please note that The Atlantic's account system is separate from our commenting system. To log in or register with The Atlantic, use the Sign In button at the top of every page.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

The Horrors of Rat Hole Mining

"The river was our source of water. Now, the people won't touch it."

Video

What's Your Favorite Slang Word?

From "swag" to "on fleek," tweens choose.

Video

Cryotherapy's Dubious Appeal

James Hamblin tries a questionable medical treatment.

Video

Confessions of Moms Around the World

In Europe, mothers get maternity leave, discounted daycare, and flexible working hours.

Video

How Do Trees Know When It's Spring?

The science behind beautiful seasonal blooming

More in Business

Just In