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It's hard to believe, but yes, even Masters of the Universe are subject to public opinion. American International Group, Inc. publicly flirted with the idea of joining a lawsuit by its former chief executive, Maurice R. "Hank" Greenberg, against the U.S. government for "unfair treatment," but have decided maybe they were being a bit too hasty in joining the suit. They're out.
Mindful of the potential backlash, a number of AIG directors entered Wednesday's meeting leaning toward rejecting Starr's request to join its suit, people familiar with their thinking said. Endorsing Starr's action, the people said, could hinder AIG's efforts to rebuild its reputation.
This decision might also have to do something with having an already prominent opponent becoming a very powerful opponent, too. Sen. Elizabeth Warren came out swinging after AIG announced it was considering joining the suit and biting the hand that fed them, as Warren said, since the company only exists because of the $182-plus billion government bailout, funded by taxpayers.

Warren's immediate and very vocal, very strong opposition made lots of news. It brought a lot of media attention and no small amount of criticism raining down on the company. That was very likely a very big factor in the directors' decision. That and the possibility of Senate Banking Committee hearings probing its post-bailout operations and the special tax breaks it enjoys. Those tax breaks were a direct target Warren's statement: "In its ongoing efforts to reform corporate tax law, Congress should close this egregious loophole and prevent AIG from continuing to receive a stealth bailout every time it files its taxes."

So AIG will try to fade back into the woodwork, but maybe it'll have done a larger service: providing the impetus for Senate Democrats to start hammering away at its tax breaks.

Originally posted to Joan McCarter on Wed Jan 09, 2013 at 12:46 PM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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