Freshman Rep. Katie Porter stumped multimillionaire JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon during a hearing Wednesday with a simple question: How are workers supposed to make ends meet?
The back-and-forth occurred during a House Financial Services Committee hearing featuring the CEOs of several major banks on Wednesday. Porter, a California Democrat, shared the story of a JPMorgan Chase employee – making a fraction of what the company’s top executives are paid – who is running a $567 deficit each month because her salary is insufficient to cover basic expenses.
“How should she manage this budget shortfall while she’s working full-time at your bank?” Porter asked Dimon.
“I don’t know that all your numbers are accurate, that number is generally a starter job –” he said.
“She is a starting employee, she has a 6-year-old child, this is her first job,” Porter said.
“You can get those jobs out of high school, and she may have my job one day,” Dimon replied.
“She may, but Mr. Dimon, she doesn’t have the ability right now to spend your $31 million,” Porter said, referring to Dimon’s 2018 pay package.
“I’m wholly sympathetic,” Dimon replied.
“She’s short $567, what would you suggest she do?” Porter pressed.
“I don’t know, I’d have to think about that,” he said.
“Would you recommend that she take out a JP Morgan Case credit card and run a deficit?” Porter asked.
Dimon repeated, “I don’t know, I’d have to think about it.”
“Would you recommend that she overdraft at your bank and be charged overdraft fees?” Porter asked.
“I don’t know I’d have to think about it,” Dimon said a third time, adding, “I’d love to call up and have a conversation about her financial affairs and see if we could be helpful.”
“(To) see if you could find a way for her to live on less than the minimum that I’ve described?” Porter asked.
“Just (to) be helpful,” Dimon replied.
“Well, I appreciate your desire to be helpful, but what I’d like you to do is provide a way for families to make ends meet,” Porter said.
After the hearing, Porter tweeted a picture of a white board showing her calculations behind the numbers she referenced during the hearing.
“During my questioning, @jpmorgan CEO Jamie Dimon said he didn’t know if all my numbers were accurate,” she tweeted. “Here’s the math so he can check.”
Porter said Thursday that the bank teller she called “Patricia” during the hearing was actually a hypothetical person representing several stories of which her office had heard.
During the hearing, Porter described a real job listing posted on the job-finding platform Monster.com for a JPMorgan Chase position in Irvine, Califonia, paying $16.50 an hour, saying, “now this bank teller, her name is Patricia. She has one child who’s 6 years old.”
When asked by CNN’s Brooke Baldwin whether the bank teller she described would want to communicate with Dimon, Porter replied, “Patricia is a representative of a number of constituents that we’d heard from.”
“So there is no Patricia out there,” Porter said, adding, “but in the other way, there are thousands and thousands, and tens of thousands of Patricias out there.”
The California Democrat said that she checked apartment listings, the US Department of Agriculture’s food cost plan, and a cost of living calculator to estimate the expenses, adding, “I am a single mom in Irvine, I know what it takes to make ends meet there.”
Porter added that her office has received feedback from her own district and nationwide saying that the figures were “too conservative.”
“I have people calling my office asking if they knew where she rented from, so that they wanted to get a one bedroom apartment for $1,600,” she said.