The Dodd bill makes some important improvements to corporate governance.
Since the onset of the financial crisis there has been a huge hue and cry about executive compensation, particularly compensation on Wall Street. It isn't hard to understand why, and it would not have been unexpected to see financial reform legislation that took a heavy-handed approach to "reforming" compensation practices. Early on in the crisis there were proposals to impose an 80% tax on bonuses and proposals to cap compensation in absolute terms. Last week members of the Angelides commission, charged with investigating the causes of the financial crisis, pummeled former Citi executives Charles Prince and Robert Rubin for getting generous compensation while the firm essentially collapsed around them.
We saw much of the same reaction in the 1930s. There was a huge public outcry over the compensation of Eugene Grace, the president of Bethlehem Steel ( BHMMQ.OB - news - people ), when it was revealed that he received a base salary of $12,000 and a bonus of more than $1.6 million in 1929. That amounts to $150,000 salary in 2010 dollars with a nearly $20 million bonus.
In spite of periodic expressions of outrage, efforts to "reign in" executive compensation have so far been relatively muted. The major pending legislation--Sen. Dodd's "Restoring American Financial Stability Act of 2009"--makes some very cautious but important recommendations about compensation. There are four that are notable.
Read the full opinion editorial at Forbes.com