VIDEO: “Big Write-Offs Will Inspire You,” Top AIG Exec Raps About Bailout

With AIG finally clear of the US government that saved the company, watch the head of one of its affiliates get down.

Today the US Treasury is expected to sell the last of its stock in the American International Group (AIG), marking the end of the $182 billion bailout that rescued the company. But the AIG brass did not always seem appreciative of the government assistance. Just look at Robert Gifford, president and CEO of AIG Global Real Estate, which oversees $8.4 billion of real estate in various countries. At a 2010 holiday party for AIG employees held at a restaurant in New York City, Gifford rapped, to the tune of Jay-Z’s “Empire State of Mind,” about working at AIG and having to deal with the government. Mother Jones obtained a copy of the video. Watch:

Read the full lyrics as circulated at AIG.

In this video, first reported (but not posted) by the New York Daily News in August, Gifford raps, “I was hanging out all comfy, at my crib in bed. Now I have endless meetings with…the Fed.” He pokes fun at AIG’s foreign branches. And he tells the crowd, “Big write-offs will inspire you.” In a longer version of the lyrics, sent to AIG employees in an email obtained by Mother Jones, Gifford describes his lifestyle, which doesn’t sound too bad: “Later it Karaoke, drinkin’ soju till I’m smoked…Crusin’ to Tokyo, Hong Kong. It’s a blast.” He adds, “Check out my threads, dawg, I’m Gucci, my junk real good. Check out my bling-bling, so iced out, so Hollywood.”

AIG spokesman James Ankner declined to comment to Mother Jones on the rap, but he confirmed to the Daily News that the party had taken place as described and cost $6,500.

The party occurred the same year AIG chairman Harvey Golub said that pay limits for the salaries of top managers, imposed as part of the bailout, made “little business sense.” And one year after CEO Robert Benmosche told AIG employees, “If you want me, you can have me, but you’ve got to pay. And you have to pay a lot, not because I need the money.”

The Treasury Department is claiming a $22.7 billion profit on the AIG bailout. But Neil Barofsky, the former special inspector general of the government’s bailout program for AIG, warns, “incentivizing in the future the exact same types of behavior that led to the last crisis and will almost certainly cause the next.” And possibly lead to other corporate rap parodies.

As AIG Chief Executive Robert Benmosche wrote in a letter to his colleagues on Tuesday, “Take a bow, because today marks our second act.”

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Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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