In the world of American Big Business, memory is short and chutzpah is long. At a little gathering of insurance folks in Washington, D.C., AIG's chief Robert Benmosche revealed that the company which used Uncle Sam as the Great Sugar Daddy deems the 'liberal' culture of relying on government bad for business. Bloomberg reports:
"American International Group Inc.'s mortgage insurer does more business in Republican-leaning states as it signs up more reliable customers than those in "more liberal" areas, Chief Executive Officer Robert Benmosche said.
"All of the states where we're a leader, where we're the No. 1 insurer, are red states, all of the states where we're at the bottom are blue states," Benmosche, 66, said yesterday at a conference in Washington. "Part of what we found out is that our model is about culture and it's about the attitude in the public. And what we find is where there's more of a tendency for people to be more liberal, more that the government is responsible for what happens to me."
After getting away with defrauding investors and then sucking up boatloads of taxpayer cash in a massive 182 billion government bailout initiated by red-stater George W. Bush, Benmosche condemns a culture of irresponsibility he believes is bred in blue states. Never mind that red states generally receive much more in federal dollars than they pay into the system. Such niceties of logic are irrelevant to corporate welfare kings who have been so emboldened by their post-financial crash free ride that they now have the temerity to trash the notion of government assistance.
You would be forgiven for thinking that the Bloomberg report is a parody. My colleague Tom Ferguson, Roosevelt Institute Fellow and U Mass Boston Professor of Political Science, could hardly believe his ears: "I wonder if it's really true," said Ferguson. "It sounds more like a CEO spouting at the end of some long, boring day spent talking to government officials about getting still more aid from taxpayers or 'regulatory relief' so his company can take even bigger risks at potential public expense. And if it is true, there may be a very simple explanation. The product he's talking about is mortgage insurance. Where would you expect to need the most insurance? Of course, in Republican states that went ga-ga on deregulation at the behest of companies like AIG. Benmosche's jeremiad may simply be the the 21st century's equivalent of of the plea to the judge for mercy because he's an orphan by the kid who killed his parents."
AIG, of course, boasts an internal culture for which the word 'irresponsible' hardly seems adequate. 'Twisted' and 'sociopathic' come to mine. So does 'criminal'. In 2009, after receiving still more taxpayer rescue funds in the wake of accounting fraud revelations and posting monumental losses, AIG execs handed themselves $123 million in bonuses as a reward for incompetence and malfeasance. The company has also been fingered for engaging in macabre "stranger originated life insurance" practices which allow someone to bet against another person's life. Nice!
Memo to AIG: Next time you come begging for a bailout, you might want to skip the blue states.
Lynn Parramore is Editor of New Deal 2.0, Media Fellow at the Roosevelt Institute, and Co-founder of Recessionwire.