Just days before Hurricane Andrew struck Florida in 1992, an AIG executive wrote a memo (.pdf of memo)
calling the impending devastation "an opportunity to get price increases now." In 2004, bringing the debate about class action laws to a despicable low, AIG’s founder and then-Chairman said: "I call the plaintiff’s bar terrorists." In 2006, AIG agreed to pay $1.6 billion to resolve state and federal investigations into improper accounting, bid rigging and practices involving workers’ compensation funds. And they’ve angered a lot of people who have gotten the run around trying to get claims paid.
So for that — and oh so much more — the federal government gave them an $85 Billion bailout tonight.
Now, as far as I’m concerned, AIG should have the right to remain silent.
I don’t want to see them lobbyng in the halls of Congress for the so-called "Optional Federal Charter" in which insurance companies can choose to be regulated by individual states or a federal regulator. We gave you $85 billion, we’ll regulate you however we please. In fact, until every last cent of the $85 billion is repaid with interest, they should not be allowed to lobby at all. Think of it as a conflict of interest.
No campaign contributions either.
I don’t think AIG should be allowed to change its insurance rates anywhere in the country, either. In California and a few other states, rate changes actually get reviewed by regulators before they can take effect, but in too many states, companies are largely deregulated. AIG obviously cannot be trusted to make decisions about money, so when it comes to the premium they take from us for insurance coverage, they should be fully regulated in every state. You can’t raise your rates (or lower them) until the Insurance Commissioner sees every financial and actuarial justification for the change…and agrees.
I also don’t think AIG should be allowed to weigh in on proposals to restrict consumers’ legal rights against insurance companies or doctors or corporations. AIG loves to blame all the problems the insurance industry has (and most of the problems of the world) on lawsuits and citizens’ legal rights. Maybe someone can send them a copy of the Constitution’s 7th Amendment with their $85 billion bailout check. In the meantime, I don’t want to hear anything from AIG about whether or not we can haul them into Court to hold them, or the businesses they insure, accountable.
Also, on that front: they are no longer allowed to say that the reason they’re raising insurance rates is because of lawsuits. No, the reason taxpayers are being forced to save your hide is because your family of companies makes really stupid investment decisions. When our families make bad invetment decisions we have to cancel vacations and not buy the new car we wanted. When AIG makes bad decisions, the government hands them $85 Billion.