Banks that are getting taxpayer bailouts awarded their top executives nearly $1.6 billion in salaries, bonuses and other benefits last year.
An Associated Press analysis finds executives were rewarded even at poorly performing banks. Some trimmed their executive compensation but still forked over multimillion-dollar pay packages.
The benefits included cash bonuses, stock options, personal use of company jets and chauffeurs, home security, country club memberships and professional money management.
The total amount given to nearly 600 executives would cover bailout costs for many of the 116 banks that have so far accepted tax dollars.
The chairman of the House Financial Services committee, Barney Frank, says the bonuses amount to a bribe to get bank executives to "do the jobs for which they are well paid in the first place."
A member of Frank's committee, California Democrat Brad Sherman, says bankers should have to come before Congress, like the automakers did, and spell out their spending plans for bailout funds.