Jamie Dimon, swaggering CEO of JP Morgan Chase, played both sides of the aisle perfectly while speaking at a Council on Foreign Relations event on Wednesday: he said he supports Obama's tax plan while also taking the Democrats and the Federal Reserve to task over banking regulations.
Here is Dimon all but endorsing Obama's tax plan:
"I don't mind paying 39.6 percent in taxes," Dimon said in an interview in Washington at the Council on Foreign Relations, backing the Democrats' position. He added he might back an increase in the capital gains tax rate to 20 percent, another proposal by President Barack Obama.
Dimon isn't the first super-rich guy to endorse paying a higher tax rate. Warren Buffett famously wrote in The New York Times that it was time he and his super-rich friends started paying higher taxes. But Dimon's endorsement of Obama's tax plan is extra juicy considering it was Republican members of Congress who were accused of throwing softball questions at Dimon during his Congressional testimony over the summer. What would they say now that he's not in favor of lowering his tax rate. Doesn't he need more money?
And if you ask Dimon, the Democrats still owe him a $10 billion favor. Or, as the Wall Street Journal put it, he's disappointed he never got his thank-you note. He called having to buy Bear Stearns in early 2008 (when George W. Bush was still president) "a favor" he did for the Federal Reserve. A favor that cost him between $5 and $10 billion over the years, through the financial regulations and lawsuits that have come since. "It's unfair," he said, asking the government not to punish businesses "every. single. time. something goes wrong." When JPMorgan agreed to buy Bear Stearns, Dimon asked a senior regulator, "please take into consideration when you want to come after us down the road for something that Bear Stearns did, that JPMorgan was asked to do this by the federal government." And yet, federal regulations rolled in under the Obama administration. There were no returned favors. JPMorgan got hit with another Bear Stearns-related lawsuit just last week. "I'm a big boy, I'll survive," Dimon said.
To prove his ultimate stance in the middle, Dimon called the legislation leading to the fiscal cliff "irresponsible," which could be shot at the President for not getting a better debt deal done. Or it could be a shot at the GOP for refusing to negotiate a better deal. Oh, Jamie. Pick a side already.