Freshman Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez reacted to a proposal by esteemed billionaire and investment guru Warren Buffett in which CEOs of banks bailed out by the United States government could be gone after for their personal net worth, Newsweek reports.
“It still blows my mind that the CEOs who crashed our economy + caused millions of people to lose their homes not only escaped handcuffs; but got bonuses, too. Many still have influential roles shaping the economy today. But we’re the crazy ones for wanting to tax ’em, right?,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted in response to an article about the proposal, punctuating the remark with an emoji showing a stack of cash flying away.
Buffet, who is considered an investment oracle by many, had contended that if a bank requires a government bailout, its CEO should literally lose everything he or she has as part of the deal.
The remarks were made at Berkshire’s shareholders meeting at the CHI Health Center in Omaha, Nebraska.
“If a bank gets to where it needs government assistance, the responsible CEO should lose his net worth and his spouse’s net worth,” Buffett said, adding that when such a situation arises, “it’s the shareholders who pay.”
The crowd in attendance cheered in response to the sentiment.
Buffett’s remarks came in response to an audience question about a scandal at Wells Fargo, of which Berkshire is one of the largest shareholders. The scandal, in which the bank was discovered creating fake customer accounts, broke in 2016 and ultimately led to the dismissal of Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf as well as a number of other executives at the company. Shares of Wells Fargo have suffered as a result, falling by about 3 percent during a time period in which the market as a whole gained 50 percent.
Despite such failings, a number of CEOs and executives who have presided over the failure of their companies have managed to maintain prominent positions within the financial industry, a far cry from Buffett’s vision of such individuals leaving the business broke and, perhaps, in shame.
Former Wachovia CEO Ken Thompson, for example, despite overseeing the collapse of one of the nation’s largest banks, now serves on the board of Lending Tree. In a similar case, former Morgan Stanley CEO John Mack is now on the board of LendingClub. John Thain, the leader under which Merrill Lynch fell prior to being taken over by Bank of America, has landed another CEO position within a year and now sits on the board of Uber.