5:55 PM Eastern - Thursday, October 22, 2009

Stephen Lerner on CNBC: America Wants Wall Street to Quit Whining

Wall Street has a message for Americans who think it's unfair that they take our tax dollars and pay themselves huge bonuses: they need that money for all their hard work.

SEIU's Stephen Lerner went on CNBC today to debate a representative of Wall Street over the Obama administration's decision to cap exec pay at seven bailed out firms.

According to Reed Smith's John Martini, Americans need to stop "getting caught up" in this notion of fairness when it comes to Wall Street pay. Martini said the billions of dollars in pay and bonuses are required to keep attracting the talent that are responsible for big banks' success.

That begs the question: what success? As Lerner points out, it's the big banks that drove our country into a financial crisis; now they expect us to give them a multi-billion dollar pat on the back?

"People around the country are so tired of this myth that it's such a sacrifice to make a half a million dollars," said Lerner. "Next week at the bankers association meeting in Chicago from the 25th through the 27th, thousands are going to gather because they're sick and tired of the whining from people who make enormous sums of money and then say 'I'll quit my job if you don't give me a big bonus.'"

It's three very entertaining minutes of television. Take a look:

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