There’s a great piece in the Washington Post today about Republicans in the Senate, and how they seem determined to focus their wrath not on the individuals at JPMorgan who were recently caught engaging in risky, irresponsible stock trades, but on those federal regulators who didn’t somehow foresee these actions and stop them from happening. It would be bad enough if these Senators were advocates of strong, active regulation, but they’re not. Quite the contrary, the elected officials in question, who are funded in large part by companies like JPMorgan, have fought tooth and nail to keep the financial industry free of federal oversight. But, as we’re seeing now, that doesn’t stop them from assigning blame to said regulators when such problems, brought about by deregulation, invariably arise. Lacking any sense of shame and/or irony, these Senators then have the unmitigated gall to suggest that instances like this prove not that oversight should be strengthened, but that oversight is ineffective, and consequently should be further defunded. The twisted, ballsy brilliance is truly awe-inspiring… Here’s a clip from the opinion piece by Dana Milbank.
JPMorgan Chase has spent upward of $20 million on lobbying and campaign contributions in the past three years. On Tuesday, the bank received a healthy dividend on that investment.
Its chairman, Jamie Dimon, has admitted that the firm was “sloppy” and “stupid” in making trading bets that lost $2 billion. But Republicans on the Senate Banking Committee wouldn’t hear of it; they preferred to blame government.
As the panel held the first hearing on the JPMorgan losses, Sen. Richard Shelby (Ala.), the committee’s ranking Republican, glowered at federal regulators and charged that they “didn’t know what was really going on.”
“When did you first learn about these trades?” Shelby inquired.
Gary Gensler, head of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, admitted that he had learned about them from press reports.
“Press reports!” Shelby echoed, with mock surprise. He smiled. “Were you in the dark?”
Gensler tried to explain that his agency does not yet have authority to regulate the bank, but Shelby interrupted. “So you really didn’t know what was going on . . . until you read the press reports like the rest of us?” he asked again.
“That’s what I’ve said,” Gensler repeated.
But Shelby wanted him to keep saying it. “You didn’t know there was a problem there until you read the press reports?”
Shelby’s performance was worth every bit of the $72,950 JPMorgan Chase and its employees have given him in the past five years, making the bank his second-largest source of campaign cash. It was a remarkable bit of jujitsu: The trading scandal at JPMorgan highlighted the urgent need for tougher regulation of Wall Street, but Shelby’s harangue was part of a larger effort to use the scandal as justification to repeal regulations…