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Obama: 'Buck stops with me'

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Obama: 'Buck stops with me'
U.S. President Barack Obama (C) delivers remarks on the economic recovery package and American International Group's (AIG) government financial aid on the South lawn at the White House in Washington on March 18, 2009. AIG has received harsh criticism after using some of the $180 billion in government aid to handout multimillion-dollar bonuses. Obama is joined by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner (L) and Director of the National Economic Council Lawrence Summers. (UPI Photo/Kevin Dietsch) | License Photo

WASHINGTON, March 18 (UPI) -- Even though no one in his administration wrote contracts leading to the AIG bonus scandal, U.S. President Barack Obama said he was responsible for fixing it.

"Ultimately I'm responsible" even though no one in his administration was responsible supervising the American International Group nor drew up the controversial contracts governing the bonuses, Obama told reporters before traveling to Southern California. "The buck stops with me. My goal is to make sure we never put ourselves in this position again.

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Lawmakers, the White House and the American public have railed against American International Group since learning the company paid out $165 million in bonuses to employees whose actions led to its financial implosion and the government's $170 billion bailout.

The president defended Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, who has come under fire for his handling of the bonus flap and whose resignation was called for publicly by one member of Congress.

"I have complete confidence in Tim Geithner and my entire economic team," Obama said.

He used the opportunity to speak for regulatory reform that would protect creditors, depositors and consumers and provide proper oversight to financially distressed institutions.

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"Now, what we're trying to do is get ourselves in a position where we make sure that going forward we're not held hostage to all these bad decisions that were made by these huge institutions in the past," Obama said.

"People are rightly outraged about these particular bonuses," he said. "But just as outrageous is the culture that these bonuses are a symptom of, that have existed for far too long -- a situation where excess greed, excess compensation, excess risk-taking have all made us vulnerable and left us holding the bag."

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