Presidential advisor David Axelrod did some brilliant work in the presidential campaign, which is why he surprises with this quote: "People are not sitting around their kitchen tables thinking about AIG. They are thinking about their own jobs."
As a matter of fact - and this comes from the farm country of Oregon - people are talking about AIG around their kitchen tables. We bring up the point here because last Sunday, when the news of the mega-bonuses to those would-be masters of the universe first hit, the reaction locally was ferocious. New Senator Jeff Merkley happened to have scheduled a town hall in this mostly rural and Republican area, and he drew a crowd for which Topic A was clearly AIG - and what would be done about those bonuses. The point is symbolic to an extent (the bonuses are only a sliver of the trillions at stake, big-picture) but substantive too in reflecting how taxpayers will be treated as compared to the financiers.
Yes, it is a big subject out here, on the other side of the continent.
As an aside, our suggestion about how to handle this: Turn AIG, already mostly owned by the taxpayers, into a government-run corporation (along the lines of a state government worker compensation fund like those in Oregon and Idaho), and its employees into federal employees. No bonuses, and compensation for top executives capped at the salary level of the president of the United States. Megamoney breeds the attitude that rules are for other people; why should taxpayers underwrite that?