The leading Democrat on the Senate Banking Committee said Tuesday he was "optimistic" about lawmakers' making changes to improve the Dodd-Frank Act next year, while lauding JPMorgan Chase's decision to raise its minimum wage from $10.15 an hour to $12.
Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, the committee's ranking Democrat, was not quite clear on what changes the panel could consider to Dodd-Frank. He did, however, note the committee's coming leadership change. With current Chairman Richard Shelby term-limited as head of the panel, the gavel will switch either to Brown or No. 2 Republican Mike Crapo, of Idaho, following the election. (Brown has also been mentioned as a potential vice presidential running mate for Hillary Clinton.)
"I'm more optimistic with the Senate Banking Committee next year ... Senator Shelby is term-limited out, whether in the majority or minority. I will be the chair, with Senator Crapo as ranking, or the other way around. We have a working relationship," Brown said in a discussion for an event on shadow banking at the Center for American Progress. "I'm hopeful that we can see some real things happen to make Dodd-Frank better."
He noted his interest in reforming the Financial Stability Oversight Council, saying there was room for improvement in the transparency of the oversight panel as well as strengthening its overall regulatory authority. The FSOC recently announced that it had rescinded the "systemic" designation for GE Capital.
"I want to see FSOC obviously making improvements. I think … the GE Capital de-designation … was the right thing to do. More importantly, it shows that FSOC can be transparent – maybe not quite transparent enough. I'm interested in that," he said. "What they did with GE Capital shows that this is a process that can work. I want to give FSOC more teeth to regulate large players in systemically important markets."
Brown started off the discussion praising JPMorgan Chase Chief Executive Jamie Dimon for the bank's decision to hike its minimum wage, including for bank tellers and customer service representatives.
"He thinks it's a good business decision," Brown said of Dimon. "Progressives have argued all along that higher wages for low-income people are good for the community, good for the country and good for those workers, especially for morale in the company itself. I think he's come to that conclusion."
Brown said he recently sat next to his classmate at a high school reunion who had worked at JPMorgan Chase for 30 years and was making $30,000 a year. He suggested that financial services lawmakers could make teller wages a policy issue.
"The average teller in this country makes $12.50 an hour. I think we're going to see some changes. One of the things I want to do, I hope as Banking [Committee] chair, or [as] ranking [member] next year, is how to bring attention to that," he said.