Ryan Budget Seeks to ‘Tighten’ SEC’s Belt

But SEC Chairwoman White says there’s an ‘immediate’ need for resources to boost advisor exams

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis. (Photo: AP) House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis. (Photo: AP)

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Besides calling for the repeal of Obamacare, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s 2015 budget also seeks to “tighten the belts” of government agencies, specifically the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Released Tuesday, the Wisconsin republican’s budget blueprint, which is to be marked up on Wednesday, seeks to cut spending by $5.1 trillion over the next 10 years by, among other measures, ending government ownership of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, repealing the Affordable Care Act and reforming Social Security and Medicare.

Ryan also addresses ways he’d like to revamp the tax code in the budget blueprint, which will be used as an outline of Republicans' priorities going into the midterm election in November.

Ryan notes in his $1.014 trillion budget plan that the SEC’s budget has risen by more than 45% since fiscal 2007, and that if President Barack Obama’s fiscal year 2015 budget request of $1.7 billion for the SEC were granted, “SEC’s budget would grow by another 26% in just one fiscal year.”

As of March 2013, Ryan said, the SEC had 3,950 full-time employees and an average salary across the agency of more than $155,000.

Like other GOP lawmakers, Ryan stated that his resolution “questions the premise that more funding for the SEC means better, smarter regulation. Adding reams of regulations to the books and scores of regulators to the payrolls will not provide greater transparency, consumer protection, and enforcement for increasingly complex markets.”

He also cited the many SEC “failures” that GOP lawmakers have raised — like the agency being “missing in action” regarding the Bernie Madoff and Allen Stanford Ponzi schemes. “These failures have taken place despite significant increases in funding at the SEC, which has seen its budget increase almost 66% since 2004,” Ryan said.

But SEC Chairwoman Mary Jo White told the House Committee on Appropriations the same day Ryan's budget was released that the funding boost the SEC is seeking under Obama's budget "is fully justified by our growing responsibilities to investors, companies, and the markets."

Said White: "With what I believe is a thoughtful and targeted approach to our resource challenges, the FY 2015 budget request of $1.7 billion would allow the SEC to hire an additional 639 staff in critical, core areas and enhance our information technology."

The SEC would add 316 examiners to the agency’s Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations, with 240 of those examiners devoted solely to overseeing advisors.

Also, stressed White, "There is an immediate and pressing need for significant additional resources to permit the SEC to increase its examination coverage of registered investment advisors so as to better protect investors and our markets. During FY 2013, due to significant resource constraints, the SEC examined only about 9% of these advisors, comprising approximately 25% of the assets under management." 

The number of SEC-registered advisors has increased by more than 40% over the last decade, White told lawmakers, while the assets under management by these advisors have increased more than twofold, to almost $55 trillion.

Ryan has indicated interest in replacing the retiring House Ways and Means Committee chairman, David Camp of Michigan. Camp announced Monday that he would not seek re-election “after much consideration and discussion” with his family.

Camp said in a statement announcing his retirement that during the next nine months he would “redouble” his “efforts to grow our economy and expand opportunity for every American by fixing our broken tax code, permanently solving physician payments for seniors, strengthening the social safety net and finding new markets for U.S. goods and services.”

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Check out Senate Finance Sets Thursday to Debate Tax Breaks on ThinkAdvisor.

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