January 29, 2009 / 7:24 PM / 10 years ago

Obama: big Wall Street bonuses outrageous

U.S. President Barack Obama waves as he arrives to speak about the economy from the East Room of the White House in Washington January 28, 2009. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama believes the multi-billion dollar bonuses that Wall Street banks awarded themselves for 2008 are “outrageous”, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said on Thursday.

The New York comptroller reported this week that Wall Street firms paid out $18.4 billion in bonuses to employees, despite receiving multi-billion dollar payouts from the government to save them from collapse in the face of the worst financial crisis in decades.

Gibbs told a news conference that Obama had a one-word reply when he heard of the reports: “outrageous”.

“We’re not going to be able to do what is needed to be done to stabilize our financial situation if the American people read about this type of outrageous behavior,” he said.

Gibbs said Obama would talk in more detail about the issue before meeting his Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner at the White House later on Thursday.

The New York comptroller said it was unclear if the banks had used taxpayer money for the bonuses but he urged the Obama administration to examine the issue closely.

Gibbs also said the White House believed that the first $350 billion of the financial bailout program had failed to live up to Americans’ expectations. The Obama administration and many lawmakers have said there were too few strings attached to the money released to shore up banks.

Reporting by Ross Colvin, Editing by Chizu Nomiyama

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