According to Obama administration officials, Executive Compensation Special Master (ECSM?) Ken Feinberg will be empowered to force new guidelines in the following manner: if he thinks that companies receiving "exceptional" assistance are paying their executives inappropriately, he can say no. He'll be given the authority to review the salaries and compensation regimes for the 100 most highly compensated employees at each company receiving assistance.

And that's basically it, until and unless Congress gives the administration the power to require that compensation committee members be independent from management and answerable only to the compensation committee. (This would give the SEC the ability to strengthen and streamline oversight.)

The White House plans to ask Congress to enact "say-on-pay" legislation to, in the words of a fact sheet, "give the SEC the authority to require non-binding annual say-on-pay votes for all public companies." Non-binding, of course, is in the eye of the beholder: what company is going to be stubborn in the face of such political pressure and shareholder suasion?  

BTW: help me come up with a name for Ken Feinberg that isn't "compensation czar." It sounds too ordinary. "Special master" sounds too kinky. Maybe... "Salary Sergeant?" "Compensation Cop?" "Greed Guard?"

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