Iowa Sen. Charles Grassley (left) suggested that AIG executives should take a Japanese approach toward accepting responsibility for the collapse of the insurance giant by resigning or killing themselves.
The Republican lawmaker’s harsh comments came during an interview with Cedar Rapids, Iowa, radio station WMT on Monday. They echo remarks he has made in the past about corporate executives and public apologies, but went further in suggesting suicide.
"I suggest, you know, obviously, maybe they ought to be removed," Grassley said. "But I would suggest the first thing that would make me feel a little bit better toward them if they’d follow the Japanese example and come before the American people and take that deep bow and say, I’m sorry, and then either do one of two things: resign or go commit suicide.
"And in the case of the Japanese, they usually commit suicide before they make any apology."
Grassley spokesman Casey Mills said the senator isn’t calling for AIG executives to kill themselves, but said those who accept tax dollars and spend them on travel and bonuses do so irresponsibly.
"Senator Grassley has said for some time now that generally speaking, executives who make a mess of their companies should apologize, as Japanese executives do," Mills said. "He says the Japanese might even go so far as to commit suicide but he doesn’t want U.S. executives to do that."
The senator’s remarks added to a chorus of public outrage over the disclosure that AIG intends to pay its executives $165 million in bonuses after taking billions in federal bailout money. President Barack Obama lambasted the insurance giant for "recklessness and greed" on Monday and pledged to try to block payment of the bonuses.