Automotive News [sub] reports that President Obama’s Pay Czar has done an about face. Kenneth Feinberg pledged to remove the $500,000 salary cap for NEW executives hired for TARP-recipients—if he’s convinced that a rule-busting pay boost would help the bailout queens return U.S. taxpayer’s money. Feinberg’s climb-down comes just two days after New GM’s federally-appointed Chairman of the Board said that Uncle Sam’s pay caps could be, indeed should be, “modified.” Of course, Ed Whitacre didn’t make his suggestion directly. Nor did Feinberg reveal the locus of his “come to Jesus with cash” moment. “[Feinberg] said the automotive firms did not appeal his rulings. But he said he would be open to requests to hire in new executives at competitive pay. ‘If General Motors or any other company wants to bring someone in laterally — laterally — and competitive pay packages require that lateral hires get certain competitive pay, what have you, we’re perfectly willing to examine that.'” So the new rule: GM can hire someone for more than $500,000 in cash per year if that person was already making $500,000 per year doing the same job, only better (one would hope). Which would exclude, uh, no one. And create mucho resentment at that special place where RenCen’s express elevators ascend to glory. More Feinbergian 180 after the jump, and a mystery to be solved . . .
GM’s government-appointed Chairman of the Board was out and about last night, speechifying at Texas Lutheran University. Ed Whitacre used the occasion to plea for the “modification” of Pay Czar Kenneth’s Feinberg’s pay caps. To recap the caps, the nationalized automaker’s top 25 executives took a 31 percent hair cut since joining the federal payroll. Aside from CEO Fritz “Opel Eyes” Henderson, that is, who had his cash compensation trimmed by just 25 percent (from $1.26 million to a paltry $950,000). Leaving only one other unnamed GM executive—cough, transparency, cough—who will “earn” more than $500,000 cash money for 2009. ‘Cause $500,000’s the new limit. And Ed’s not happy about that. “To find top-level people where you need them, that’s a more difficult thing to do at that salary level,” Whitacre said. “I don’t think [the caps] will be lifted, but hopefully they’ll be modified.” Now there’s a man who knows the value of politics. As for the value of GM stock, same deal. Or, in this case, no deal.
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