Not a single Senator raised the obvious question: We bailed out JPMorgan Chase. So why don't we have a seat on your board, instead of the other way around?
What does Jamie know?
"This is not your hearing," Sen. Merkley told Dimon. The good Senator was sadly wrong. It was
Dimon's hearing, and never more so than at the end, when he was given
the opportunity to pontificate about the U.S. economy. That's a subject
he understands even less than legitimate finance. That's when he gave
his pitch for Simpson-Bowles, as Dana Milbank reported:
"If we had done something remotely like Simpson-Bowles," Dimon said in response to Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., at the end of the hearing, "you would have increased confidence in America. You would have shown a real fix of the long-term fiscal problem. I think you would have had... a more effective tax system that is conducive to economic growth."
This is the common hoax: That more "trickle-down economics" would spur the economy, and that investor confidence would rise under austerity pollcies and bring the entire economy with it. How's that working' out for ya, Europe?
That wasn't Dimon's only pitch, of course. He also repeated his efforts to leave badly-managed and criminally-inclined organizations like his own free to operate without adult supervision -- that is to say, unregulated. He complained about the complexity of Dodd-Frank, saying "I would prefer a simple, clean, strong regulatory system with real intelligent design, and that's not what we did. We created a really complex [set of rules]... And it's not clear to me who has the responsibility or the authority."
What Dimon didn't say is that the complexity was only created because Washington chose to allow too-big-to-fail banks like his to keep existing. There's a simple, common-sense solution that doesn't require all the red tape: Break them up. But to accommodate Mr. Dimon and his peers, lawmakers chose instead to create some mild safeguards to reduce the likelihood that we'll have to bail the banks out instead.
But his Simpson-Bowles testimony was the centerpiece of his platform this week. That closed-captioning system would have read like this: We can no longer afford to pay your Medicare costs, and we want your Social Security trust fund for other purposes, because guys like me ruined the economy and the only other way to restore our society is by asking us to pay our fair share in taxes. And trust me, as long as I'm writing checks to the guys I'm looking at right now, that ain't gonna happen.
Not a single Senator asked Dimon why anybody would listen to the economic advice of anybody with a track record like his.
Dimon and Simpson
Ashford and Simpson were the songwriting duo that sang "Ain't No Mountain High Enough." Dimon and Simpson are the corporate-politics duo that want to give us "Ain't No Austerity Grim Enough."
Alan Simpson is the former Republican Senator who is now retired and enjoying a fat pension from the American people whose retirement security he has dedicated his remaining years to destroying. He's funded by right-wing billionaire Pete Peterson, who has also co-opted leading Democrats like Bill Clinton into his miserly efforts.
Simpson employs a variety of tools on behalf of the "bipartisan" power elite's agenda, most notably obscenity, dishonesty, and personal abuse. His last venomous outburst was directed against Nancy Altman and Eric Kingson of Social Security Works (with whom I've had a very pleasant working association).
Nancy and Eric are two of the most courteous and thoughtful people I know, and Simpson's snarling personal attack on them stands in stark contrast to their own civility. Simpson, of course, served as the co-chair of President Obama's "Deficit Commission" -- which addressed Social Security, too, even though Social Security doesn't contribute to the deficit. And the president who routinely chastises others for failing to disagree in a civil manner has yet to rebuke Simpson for his discourtesy.
Simpson's (relatively) silent partner is Erskine Bowles, the Clinton Democratic insider turned hedge fund millionaire.
And then there's Tim Geithner, who said on Thursday that the right economic path "really began with Bowles-Simpson and that's where it's going to end." Geithner said that the President's Fiscal Year budget "differs in slight -- in small respects from that basic framework, [but] is very close to that basic design. That's the neighborhood in which we've planned to govern."