What were you expecting, flowers and a big hug? As Securities and Exchange Commission Chair Mary Jo White was winding down her final hours at the agency, House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) slammed her for recent comments.
In a Jan. 17 speech, her last as chairman, White expressed her concern with efforts to either sidetrack or water down the Commission’s mission. She blasted political gamesmanship, ongoing partisan bickering, and current legislative efforts that could erode the agency’s independence and “cripple” both regulatory and enforcement efforts.
“We have been accused of both gutting regulation and suffocating the market with too much of it,” she said. “A few have attacked us for letting the crooks off with a slap on the wrist, while others say we are too tough or have targeted others simply to pump up our numbers. In short, the environment necessary for independent agencies to be able to do the jobs you all want us to do is not getting better. Indeed, recent trends have even raised the question of whether or not the independence of the SEC can be preserved at all.”
“The House passed a bill just last week that would impose conflicting, burdensome, and needlessly detailed requirements regarding economic matters in Commission rulemaking that would provide no benefit to investors beyond the exhaustive economic analysis we already undertake,” White added. These requirements would prevent the Commission from “responding timely to market developments or risks that could lead to a market crisis.”
House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) has fired back against White’s complaints regarding what he described as “accountability legislation.”
“It’s disappointing that Chair White chose to attack Congress in her final public remarks as SEC Chair simply for trying to make the SEC more accountable and to help the SEC do a better job of analyzing the costs of its many regulations,” he said in a statement. “If she’s suggesting Congress should be subservient to the SEC, I’d advise her to re-read the Constitution. Congress created the SEC, not the other way around.”
“Entrepreneurship is at a generational low and sadly the SEC has done essentially nothing to help small business entrepreneurs,” he added. “Despite an 82 percent increase in its budget over the past decade, the SEC has consistently failed to fulfill its capital formation mission to help small businesses access capital so they can innovate, grow and hire more American workers. No wonder she chose to focus her remarks elsewhere rather than on the SEC’s record.”