As legislators struggle with a $1 trillion bailout (including the $300 billion already spent on Bear Stearns and AIG) for Wall Street, John McCain called for the details of the proposal to be put online, The San Francisco Chronicle reports.
"The American people have the right to know which businesses will be helped, what the selection will be based on and how much that help will cost," McCain said.
Good idea, as far as it goes. But public disclosure is not the same thing as oversight. McCain and Obama both offer similar conditions on the package. Obama's, the Chronicle said, include bipartisan oversight board, restrictions on executive payouts, an equity stake for taxpayers to recoup some of their outlays, a new fee on the entire financial services industry and aid to homeowners struggling with mortgages.
McCain wants an oversight board, a "path for taxpayers to recover the money" (yah, right), and limits on executive pay.
Meanwhile, McCain is taking heat for the contradiction between his criticism of executive payouts and the pile his own advisor, Carly Fiorina, walked away with from HP. Carly, McCain said, is "a role model to millions of young Americans." (Apparently, there are millions of young people just dying to make hash of storied companies.)
Fiorina walked away with a $45 million-plus termination package while 20,000 HP workers were laid off. On NBC's Today show, McCain was asked to justify her continued presence as an economic advisor. His response was not impressive:
“I think she did a good job as CEO in many respects. I don’t know the details of her compensation package but she is one of many advisers that I have. I do not know the details of what happened. I know that she was a very successful businesswoman. She started out as a part-time secretary and made her way to the top of the corporate ladder as one of the biggest CEOs of corporate America.
McCain makes it sound like Fiorina worked her way up the rungs at HP for her entire career, a true "working girl" story. The narrative is not that far off but she certainly didn't come up through HP, as McCain suggests. She did start as a secretary, working as a Kelly Girl, among other positions. She worked as a receptionist at Marcus & Millchap, then entered AT&T's management training program, where she became an SVP. She worked at AT&T for 20 years before she was hired as CEO of HP.
More to the point, she represents the very antithesis of "Main Street" values that is so in vogue these days, engineering the merger with Compaq, fighting a very public battle with Walter Hewlitt, laying off tens of thousands of workers, and offering them this zinger on their way out:
There is no job that is America's God-given right anymore. We have to compete for jobs as a nation. Our competitiveness as a nation is not inevitable. It will not just happen.