Outcry over big bank bonuses




Posted on January 10, 2010 at 6:19 PM

Updated Monday, Jan 11 at 8:56 AM

BOTHELL, Wash. -- It could be a rocky week on Wall Street. Today, many bank CEOs and executives will get their big year-end bonuses. All kinds of numbers are flying around, but the average bonus is expected to be at least six figures.

Many banks are just starting to get back on their feet after last year's massive government bailout, which saved many banks from collapse.

The public outcry has already begun, especially from people who are still struggling to pay their mortgage. One family in Bothell is both angry and frustrated.

Jeff and Jennifer Arthur represent what many Americans are going through. They moved into a neighborhood in Bothell about five years ago. Then unforeseen circumstances now leave them struggling to hold on to the American dream.

The headline in a newspaper is what first caught Jeff Arthur's attention.

"The article about the bonuses that the bank executives should be expecting this week just infuriated me," he said.

Infuriating because the Arthurs are barely treading water.

Multiple sclerosis sidelined Jeff two years ago and their household income was cut in half. Jennifer, a school teacher, is now responsible for their twin daughters, an ailing husband and a mortgage.

"Since he's not working, I have to put all three of them on my insurance, medical and dental, just seeing that $900 deduction from my teacher's paycheck just doesn't leave much," said Jennifer.

The Arthurs say they have been trying to get help through President Obama's loan modification program, but they've had little luck with their lender.

"It's an ongoing battle for basically eight months. People have hung on me, I've been given different people to talk to," said Jeff.

The bonuses being handed out today are expected to be at least six figures. Jeff and Jennifer will be on the phone today, calling out yet again for help.
"All the people who make the world, all they care about is themselves and not the underlings if you will," said Jeff.

The Arthurs are up to date on their mortgage, but that will be short lived unless they can get some sort of loan modification.

White House Economic Advisor Christina Romer calls the year-end bonuses ridiculous and offensive.  There's talk that despite calls for restraint from Washington, banks are preparing to pay out bonuses that rival those in the boom year, up to 8 figures for some chief executives and top producers.