'Don't Gut the S.E.C." is the headline over Arthur Levitt Jr.'s op-ed in the New York Times accusing Congressional Republicans of "efforts to eviscerate the Securities and Exchange Commission by underfunding and micromanaging it."
Just what is the evidence of this "underfunding" of the SEC? Mr. Levitt complains, "For 2012, the S.E.C asked for an increase of $222 million in its budget; it is slated to receive no increase at all."
What's not mentioned in Mr. Levitt's op-ed is what the New York Times news department reported earlier this year:
by several measures, the S.E.C. is far from starved for money. Its $1.1 billion budget in 2010 was 15 percent higher than the $960 million it received the year before — and nearly triple its $377 million budget in 2000.
Representative Spencer T. Bachus, the Alabama Republican who is chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, said last week that the tripling of the S.E.C.'s budget occurred in a period that included some of the agency's biggest failures — the Ponzi schemes of Bernard L. Madoff and R. Allen Stanford and the collapse of Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers.
Last September, H. David Kotz, the inspector general, reported that a lack of adequate policies led the agency to make lease payments that could have been avoided, including more than $15 million for space in Manhattan that no S.E.C. employees have occupied in the last five years.
In April of 2011, the SEC got a $74 million boost, bringing its budget for 2011 to $1.19 billion.
It looks like in the world of Mr. Levitt and the New York Times op-ed page, an agency whose budget more than triples to $1.19 billion in 2011 from $377 million in 2000 is underfunded.
The Times identifies Mr. Levitt only as "the chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission from 1993 to 2001," ignoring his role as a paid adviser to Goldman Sachs, which is regulated by the SEC.