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US officials argue over pay deals

Government officials argued Tuesday over whether pay is still too high for top executives at bailed-out companies like AIG, General Motors, and Ally Financial.

In a hearing before the House’s oversight committee, Christy Romero, who runs the group meant to be a watchdog over the government’s financial crisis-era bailout, argued that pay is too high. Taxpayers, she said, are depending on the government ‘‘to put a lid on’’ pay at companies ‘‘whose missteps nearly crippled the US financial system.’’ But, she said, ‘‘AIG, Ally, and GM executives continue to rake in Treasury-approved multimillion-dollar pay packages.’’

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Patricia Geoghegan, the Treasury official who approved the pay at those companies, argued that the compensation was reasonable. Geoghegan said she had to allow the companies to pay enough to attract the talent they need. That way they can finish paying back their bailout loans.

‘‘Pay has been cut and taxpayers are being repaid,’’ Geoghegan said, referring to her office’s work.

Pay for finance executives became a lightning rod in the financial crisis. Many were angered by the multimillion dollar pay packages that executives of big banks were getting while their companies were being bailed out by the government.

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