It must be so hard to be Jamie Dimon and watch Donald Trump in the White House. Every day, he watches someone so many view as a blow-hard ignoramus who inherited his money run the country. Meanwhile Dimon, who sees himself as a hard-working striver running the largest bank in the United States — and who earned his millions the honest way — is, in the end, just another chief executive.
Dimon, the head of JPMorgan Chase, proclaimed on Wednesday morning that he could beat President Trump in 2020. “I’m smarter than he is,” he proclaimed. “I would be fine. He could punch me all he wants, it wouldn’t work with me. I’d fight right back.” For good measure, he reminded Trump who was really self-made, and who just plays a self-made billionaire on television. “And, by the way, this wealthy New Yorker actually earned his money,” he said. “It wasn’t a gift from daddy.”
Take that, Trump! So what’s holding Dimon up? Well, those darn Democrats won’t let him win the nomination. “I can’t beat the liberal side of the Democratic Party,” Dimon said.
Predictably, the Internet went insane and, within an hour, Dimon reconsidered his position. “I should not have said it,” he said in a statement. But in what was almost certainly another swipe at the CEO who does inhabit the Oval Office, Dimon added that his impulsive statement “proves I wouldn’t make a good politician.”
Please reconsider again, Jamie Dimon. This liberal Democrat is begging you to do so.
Most of the chief executives who have announced, or have let it be known they would like to knock Trump out of the White House, are not direct representatives of Wall Street. There’s Howard Schultz of Starbucks, Bob Iger of Disney and former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, the founder of, yes, Bloomberg. But what we haven’t had is a candidate who can be asked directly about his role in the events which led to the financial crisis in 2008, as well as the aftermath we continue to slog through. Instead, in 2016, we were forced to make do with Hillary Clinton, often put on trial for the sin of taking several hundred thousand dollars to give private talks at a number of banks, most notably Goldman Sachs. She was, people complained, too nice to bankers, too friendly, too forgiving.
A speech or two does not a financial crisis make. Let’s get a real banker up on the debate stage. Perhaps an opponent can ask Dimon how, if he’s so competent, the bank he runs needed to pay a settlement of more than $2 billion as a result his bank’s mishandling of mortgage servicing; more than $31 billion over claims the bank misled investors over the sale of mortgage securities that, they alleged, were less than advertised; $307 million over claims by the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures Trade Commission that it’s brokers improperly put wealth management customers in JPMorgan Chase-branded mutual and hedge funds when there were less costly and better options available; and $55 million to shut down an investigation into allegations it charged African American and Latino mortgage applicants higher interest rates than it offered to whites.
Let’s see what Dimon says when he’s asked why he felt the need to accept $35.8 million in compensation in 2008 and $20.8 million bonus in 2010. Remember, according to the Census Bureau, U.S. household median income only returned to 2007 levels in 2016. While Dimon continued raking in millions, the rest of us were living through a lost decade.
And maybe Dimon would like to explain to millions of voters why he believes Wall Street bankers were demonized in the aftermath of the financial crash. “The incessant broad based vilification of the banking industry isn’t fair and it is damaging,” he said in 2010. During the crisis, JPMorgan Chase took billions in bailout money (which it would eventually repay). Dimon, in a 2012 congressional hearing, said he agreed to accept the money because the Treasury Department asked him to do so. What a swell guy!
I could go on, but you get the idea.
So run, Jamie Dimon, run. We voters could use the catharsis. Who knows, maybe you’ll convince people you were right? But like you said, I wouldn’t count on it.