Obama scorns "shameful" Wall Street bonuses

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WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama has lambasted Wall Street for handing out "shameful" bonus payments in the midst of the worst financial crisis since World War II. Obama also assured there would be investigations into whether tax payers' bailout money was used to line the pockets of Wall Street bankers.

Obama referred to a report by New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, which found bonus payments in 2008 were as strong as they had been in 2004, with New York financial brokerages losing $35 billion last year but paying out $18.4 billion in bonuses.

"That is the height of irresponsibility," said Obama. "It is shameful."

"The American people understand that we have a big hole that we have to dig ourselves out of," said Obama. "But they do not like the idea that people [financial firm executives] are digging a bigger hole, even as they are being asked to fill it up."

The first element of Obama's economic programme began its journey through Congress last week with the House of Representatives approving an $819 billion economic stimulus package. The plan, combining tax cuts a spending splurge in multiple areas, is now subject to Senate approval.

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