Every year those big Wall Street bonuses become the talk of the town, but this year it could be for a whole new reason.
There's rumblings on Capitol Hill that lawmakers might look to limit or even do away with bonuses this year.
The first salvos were fired late Tuesday when Rep. Henry Waxman, who chairs the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, said he sent letters to the first nine major banks set to receive a capital injection from the government, seeking information on their compensation and bonus plans for 2008 and other years.
Though what's commonly known as the Wall Street bailout package includes modest restrictions on CEO pay, it hardly prevents participating financial firms from paying bonuses to top executives and others.
However, in an environment of rising layoffs, recession and huge government bailouts, experts and legislators say big end-of-year bonuses will cause a firestorm of public outrage and likely provoke a Congressional backlash.
"The corporate community doesn't seem to get it," says a seething Nell Minow, founder of the Corporate Library, which focuses on corporate governance issues. "If the corporate leaders don't come to the American people with some accountability, they are going to find themselves in a world of pain. Congress will set CEO pay."
And that leads to our Fast Money Reader Poll. Should regulators limit Wall Street bonuses this year?
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CNBC.com with wires