JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon criticized lawmakers for the monthslong deadlock over a second round of coronavirus relief to help unemployed Americans and struggling businesses as the pandemic deepens.
"I know now we have this big debate. Is it $2.2 trillion, $1.5 trillion?" Dimon said Wednesday, referring to competing visions for a relief bill from Democrats and Republicans, at The New York Times' Dealbook conference.
"You gotta be kidding me," Dimon told Andrew Ross Sorkin. "I mean, just split the baby and move on. This is childish behavior on the part of our politicians."
Congress has so far failed to pass a second relief bill after key parts of the first law, the CARES Act, expired in July. While financial pain for the unemployed and small businesses is set to grow as Covid-19 infections surge to records across the country, top leaders from both parties haven't met since the Nov. 3 presidential election.
Dimon urged lawmakers to agree on fiscal stimulus that would act as a bridge until midyear 2021, when promising vaccines may be widely distributed. In particular, pain is being felt by the "bottom 20 percent" of earners in terms of job losses, unlike in past recessions, he said.
"There is a big part of our country that is really struggling. That is what we should be focusing on," Dimon said. "It has zero to do with Democrats and Republicans."
He added, "If stimulus doesn't come, the probability of having a good economic outcome drops."
Asked about the possibility that President-elect Joe Biden will raise taxes on corporations and people making more than $400,000 a year, Dimon acknowledged the government's need to raise more revenue, although he said the priority should be increasing U.S. economic growth.
"Yes, taxes have to go up somewhere, and I completely understand that," Dimon said. "There are taxes that hurt growth and taxes that don't, so taxing my income a bit more, that doesn't hurt growth. Taxing capital formation over time hurts growth."
"Thank God we have these two vaccines coming, thank God," Dimon said. "Now is the time to not act like it's over. Let's double down and get though Covid-19 the best we can."