In order to restore trust, we've got to make certain that taxpayer funds are not subsidizing excessive compensation packages on Wall Street.
We all need to take responsibility. And this includes executives at major financial firms who turned to the American people, hat in hand, when they were in trouble, even as they paid themselves customary lavish bonuses. As I said last week, this is the height of irresponsibility. It's shameful. And that's exactly the kind of disregard of the costs and consequences of their actions that brought about this crisis: a culture of narrow self-interest and short-term gain at the expense of everything else.
This is America. We don't disparage wealth. We don't begrudge anybody for achieving success. And we certainly believe that success should be rewarded. But what gets people upset -- and rightfully so -- are executives being rewarded for failure, especially when those rewards are subsidized by U.S. taxpayers, many of whom are having a tough time themselves.
For top executives to award themselves these kinds of compensation packages in the midst of this economic crisis isn't just bad taste -- it's bad strategy -- and I will not tolerate it as President. We're going to be demanding some restraint in exchange for federal aid -- so that when firms seek new federal dollars, we won't find them up to the same old tricks.