The Obama administration on Wednesday imposed a pay cap of 500,000 U.S. dollars for top executives at companies that receive the government bailout money to weather the current financial crisis.
The new rule came out amid rising public fury about huge pay packages for executives at financial companies being propped up by federal tax dollars.
Obama slammed the extravagant bonuses for some Wall Street executives as "shameful," noting it was a "culture of narrow self-interest and short-term gain."
"What gets people upset, and rightfully so, are executives being rewarded for failure. Especially when those rewards are subsidized by U.S. taxpayers," said Obama.
Executives would also be prohibited from receiving any bonuses above their base pay, except for normal stock dividends. But the cap on executive pay would not apply to banks in good financial shape that receive federal assistance, according to some U.S. media.
The new rule would be far tougher than any restrictions imposed during the Bush administration, and it could force executives to accept deep reductions in their current pay.
Meanwhile, Obama urged the Congress to quickly approve the massive stimulus package he proposed to save the sagging U.S. economy.
"No plan is perfect, and we should work to make it stronger," he said. "Let's not make the perfect the enemy of the essential. Let's show people all over our country who are looking for leadership in this difficult time that we are equal to the task."
The president warned that failure of the package may turn the current crisis into a "catastrophe."
"A failure to act, and act now, will turn crisis into a catastrophe and guarantee a longer recession, a less robust recovery, and a more uncertain future," he said.
"That's why I feel such a sense of urgency about the Economic Recovery and Reinvestment Plan," he added, referring to the over-800-billion-dollar stimulus package.
(Xinhua News Agency February 5, 2009)