While we have given them money to stabilize, we don't OWN them. Much like the bank doesn't OWN your house if it has a mortgage on it. It has a stake and if you fail to pay monies back it, at some point will but contractually the bank does not OWN your house, nor does the US Government OWN AIG.
So we are back at square ONE. Yes, we should have, back in October when Hank and Ben were setting up the original Tranche put in place a harsh set of conditions on that loan. We did not. So the government has little to do with this besides grandstand, stomp our feet and HOPEFULLY NOT
act like the Bush Administration and make up rules to get our way, legal or not. That would be a shame, and cost much more than the cost of the bonus monies.
What is left is to embarrass AIG into backing down. That might work. But they can stick to their guns and say that we are required, by law to abide by contracts or buy them out. As a US Corporation that is most likely in their charter. They are now in a position of PR
damage control. The rest is easy from that standpoint. Bring in the top 75% of recipients, tell them what they are NOT going to get at this point and why and let the fallout start. The right press conference will keep the damage to a minimum.
Again, the biggest problem I see is AIG [and others] promoting the image of rewarding abject failure with bonuses in order to keep the "best and brightest". Guess what. They aren't the best or brightest if they were involved in the decision trees that got AIG [and us] where we are.
As for doing biz with AIG, their main clients are other banks, other insurers [like state farm and allstate] and global investment companies. Many have already stopped doing business with them simply because they collapsed [that may have actually helped AIGs bottomline as their risk pool shrunk].