J.P. Morgan Chase predicts 'gridlocked' Congress, memo shows

By Dan Eggen
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, November 9, 2010; 9:18 PM

J.P. Morgan Chase, which lobbies Washington more than any other bank, predicts that clashes between the House and Senate will lead to a "gridlocked" Congress "without any landmark legislation" enacted over the next two years, according to a confidential internal memorandum.

The Nov. 3 memo, obtained by the Center for Responsive Politics, provides a glimpse into the mind-set of one of Wall Street's most powerful commercial banks, which has clashed with Democrats over financial regulation and increased its support for Republicans.

The memo predicts that lawmakers will extend the Bush-era tax cuts for at least a year and that Democrats will abandon attempts to end the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy or enact immigration legislation before a new Congress is seated in January.

The commercial banking giant also says new Wall Street regulations will be undercut by House Republicans who will "seek to use the appropriations process to slow implementation . . . by underfunding the new federal agency staff needed to get those programs off the ground."

J.P. Morgan Chase spokeswoman Jennifer Zuccarelli confirmed the memo's authenticity to the CRP's OpenSecrets Blog.

"We believe it's our responsibility not only to encourage our employees to participate in the political process - however they may vote - but it is also our duty to keep them informed about issues affecting the firm and the country," Zuccarelli told the OpenSecrets Blog. "We're proud of the nonpartisan efforts and resources we offered for our employees this year. We had unprecedented interest this cycle from our 180,000 U.S. employees seeking to better understand the issues and candidates."

J.P. Morgan Chase is among a host of Wall Street banks that have shifted PAC contributions to Republicans over the past year. The bank, which was a recipient of federal bailout funds, also spent $5.8 million on lobbying during the first nine months of this year.

The memo contains sharp words for President Obama, saying he will be "under pressure to reach beyond the Congress and appeal directly to the American people for support - something he has not done very successfully in the last two years."

The bank's chief executive, Jamie Dimon, was a strong supporter of Obama's candidacy in 2008 but has since led the bank's shift toward the GOP. "We were neither in love nor have we fallen out," Dimon told Fortune magazine in September, referring to Obama. ". . . He may have close relations, but I am not one of them."

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