the audit

Audit Notes: Dimon the Persecuted, Mitt’s Taxes, Minimum Wage

January 25, 2012

Yesterday we heard press favorite Jamie Dimon sputtering about how swipe-fee regulations, which capped how much big banks could gouge merchants for debit-card transactions, were “a gross miscarriage of justice.”

Today, Charlie Gasparino of Fox Business sits down with Dimon and gets some nice quotes out of him on how Obama treats the “fat cats”:

“I’ve disagreed right from the beginning from this blanket blame of all banks are all bad guys I don’t like that. I think that’s a form of discrimination that should be stopped.”

It doesn’t lead to productive conversation. Not everyone was equally bad. Not everyone was in fact bad. I think it denigrates America.

Victim much?

JPMorgan are the good guys, you see. Just ask Jefferson County, or talk to the lawyers in Chase’s mothballed debt-collections department, or the investors who lost hundreds of millions of dollars while JPMorgan profited big on a SIV, or the Lutheran nonprofit defrauded on a CDO that JPM built for Magnetar, or illegally foreclosing on and overcharging hundreds of troops while they were abroad, or the homeowners who got trampled in the foreclosure scandal, or the former Chase regional VP who regrets the $2 billion in toxic loans he made in 2007 under “pressure from the top,” or the consumers who get screwed by Vertrue, etc. etc.

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— Reuters’s David Cay Johnston wrote this about Mitt Romney’s taxes a few days before the candidate released his returns:

And what about taxes on the $100 million that Romney put into a trust for his five sons. How much Massachusetts and federal income tax, as well as gift tax, was paid on that money?

It turns out, Johnston tells CNN, that Romney and his heirs paid no taxes on that $100 million gift:

I have suspected this and written about it in my column that this is what happened, and last night, Brad Malt, the attorney for the Romneys, confirmed to Reuters that we were correct. They have not paid a penny of gift tax. That’s because Congress allows a very tiny group of people — the Romneys by their income are in the top 1% of the top 1% — to not count as having any value the real souce of their income, something called carried interest, if they give it to their children…

The scandal here is not the Romneys, who have complied with the law in every way, it is the law that requires you and me to be taxed differently and much more heavily than a very small group of people—those who run funds of the kind that Mr. Romney did.

Good catch.

(h/t Kevin Drum)

— Here’s one campaign promise Barack Obama never came close to fulfilling: Raising the minimum wage and indexing it to inflation.

I had forgotten about that plank until reading this Fortune story on how even Republicans like Mitt Romney actually kinda support raising the minimum wage from $7.25 an hour, which is lower in real terms than it was fifty years ago.

Obama said this in his campaign:

As president, Obama will further raise the minimum wage to $9.50 an hour by 2011, index it to inflation and increase the Earned Income Tax Credit to make sure that full-time workers can earn a living wage that allows them to raise their families and pay for basic needs such as food, transportation, and housing — things so many people take for granted.

There’s been a nasty recession since that promise, of course. Does that mean the Democratic president thinks raising the minimum wage to late-1960s levels would kill jobs?

Ryan Chittum is a former Wall Street Journal reporter, and deputy editor of The Audit, CJR’s business section. If you see notable business journalism, give him a heads-up at Follow him on Twitter at @ryanchittum.