Friday was the last day for companies on the government dole to submit their pay plans to Kenneth Feinberg, our nation’s new Pay Czar. The new compensation commissar is as powerful as a mid-winter blizzard on the Eurasian Steppe. According to Law.com:
The Obama administration’s “pay czar” is embarking on a review of proposed compensation packages for the top employees at seven companies that are on government life support, marking the first time a federal official will have veto power over how much private-sector executives are compensated.
Kenneth Feinberg, who ran the government’s fund for families of the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, has 60 days to approve or reject the compensation plans submitted this week from bailout recipients. They include American International Group Inc. and General Motors.
Can’t you just see a detail of Feinberg’s men assigned to follow Fritz Henderson (the new CEO of GM) during his training routine? One day maybe Fritz will outrun Feinberg’s men and climb to the top of a high peak and scream “Fein-BERG,” as he prepares for an epic final battle with Feinberg himself?
In the meantime, here are more reasons why being a lawyer right now is better than being a banker.
Kenneth Feinberg — a dude from Brockton, an NYU Law grad, and a former partner at Kaye Scholer — seems as confused as anybody as to why America has implemented a Politburo-style solution to temper the right of every American to make as much money as possible on the backs of everybody else:
“In our country’s heritage, we do not look kindly on the federal government insinuating itself into the private marketplace and micromanaging these companies,” Feinberg told National Public Radio in June. “On the other hand, there’s this populist sentiment today that there was excessive compensation paid to high-level company officials.”
Compensation experts say Feinberg will likely seek changes that would align pay packages with executives’ performance.
Pay tied to performance? Now I know what that wild-eyed woman was talking about when she said “I want my America back!”
As usual, the fees these bailed out companies pay their lawyers have escaped mainstream media attention. That’s a fortunate thing. If the federal government started telling lawyers how much they could get paid, well, somebody might just dust off that old Constitution we have — or at least a copy of The Wealth of Nations.
Biglaw bonus season is just around the corner. We’ll befoul the Volga before we let any Pay Czar take that away from us, right?