It's no secret that paying taxes is something the American Empire's wealthy need not fret over. The appointment of Timothy Geithner, a tax cheat, to head the Treasury department certainly rubs our noses in this double standard. Geithner reportedly played a role in the decision to rescue insurer AIG, but a bigger factor was undoubtedly AIG's close relationship to Goldman Sachs. Goldman was AIG's largest trading partner and, until two years ago, was run by former Treasury head and bailout architect Hank Paulson. If AIG collapsed Goldman stood to lose $20 billion.
After receiving $150 billion in bailout funds, AIG is rewarding 400 employees with $450 million in bonuses. This is on the heels of Merrill Lynch's decision to pay out $4-5 billion in bonuses as Bank of America purchases this corporate failure.
Polls showed the U.S. public to be overwhelmingly against last year's bailout, but Obama and McCain rendered it a non-issue with their mutual support of Paulson's corporate welfare program. Single-payer health care was another non-issue with both Obama and McCain standing in firm opposition while opinion polls have shown steady support for socialized medicine.
True populist appeal is not something Obama is interested in. Wall Street appeal is much more lucrative.