Democratic Rep. Katie Porter (Calif.) grilled JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon during a Wednesday hearing, challenging the billionaire about how a single mother working as a Chase bank teller should budget out her starting salary.
During a House Financial Services Committee hearing that included the CEOs of a handful of major banks, Porter shared the story of a woman, meant to represent several of Porter's constituents, who takes home $2,425 each month from her job with JPMorgan Chase and shares a room with her daughter in a one-bedroom apartment in Irvine, Calif., that costs roughly $1,600 a month.
The congresswoman said that after the woman spends about $100 of her paycheck each month on utilities and more on food, travel, rent and child care, she ends up with a deficit of $567 a month.
"How should she manage this budget shortfall while she's working full-time at your bank?" she asked Dimon during the hearing.
"I don't know that all your numbers are accurate, that number is generally a starter job," he responded.
"She is a starting employee, she has a 6-year-old child, this is her first job," Porter replied.
"You can get those jobs out of high school, and she may have my job one day," Dimon said.
"She may, but Mr. Dimon, she doesn't have the ability right now to spend your $31 million," Porter fired back, referring to the CEO’s pay package last year.
"I'm wholly sympathetic," Dimon said in response.
"She's short $567, what would you suggest she do?" Porter asked.
"I don't know, I'd have to think about that," Dimon said.
"Would you recommend that she take out a JPMorgan Chase credit card and run a deficit?" Porter continued.
"I don't know, I'd have to think about it,” the CEO repeated.
"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 again repeated, adding that he’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 said.
"Just [to] be helpful," Dimon responded.
"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 added.
Shortly after the hearing, the congresswoman shared a photo on Twitter of a white board on which she calculated the woman’s expenses.
Porter told CNN during a Thursday interview that the woman, whom she called "Patricia," was a hypothetical person who represented multiple stories that have been heard by her office.
She is "a representative of a number of constituents that we'd heard from," Porter said.
However, Porter described an actual job listing during the hearing that was shared on Monster.com and advertises a bank teller position paying an hourly wage of $16.50.
"So there is no Patricia out there," Porter said, "but in the other way, there are thousands and thousands, and tens of thousands of Patricias out there."