I found a statement today made by Obama administration pay czar Kenneth Feinberg extremely odd. According to ABC News, in a speech at a Washington, D.C. conference held by the National Association of Corporate Directors, he said:
I've learned about the incredible gap, the chasm between Wall Street perceptions and Main Street perceptions. It is a formidable chasm that I'm not sure can be bridged, although the law requires me to attempt to bridge that gap.
I think he might want to re-read his job description.
This isn't Feinberg's role at all, at least not by my understanding. He was brought in to ensure that firms who took bailout money follow the compensation guidelines set by the legislation that provided the bailout. It has nothing -- nothing -- to do with public perception.
Certainly, the job he has the authority to perform is formidable. I've noted that several times. But that job does not include trying to make the angry masses with pitchforks happier, at least not exactly. He will limit executive pay, but only insofar as the law dictates he can. If Congress' intention was to make Main Street happy, then it probably should have given him more power, as the legislation really only limits compensation for a select few individuals at most firms.
I find the language he uses worrying. His speech seems to indicate that he might have broader compensation goals in mind. If that's the case, I hope he has some additional legislation that I haven't heard about to back up such aspirations.
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