If the SEC needs $1.5 billion to pursue an expanded mandate, Mary Schapiro's Congressional opponents are now suggesting that maybe that mandate simply needs to stop expanding.
Scott Garrett, Republican from New Jersey and chairman of the House Capital Markets Subcommittee, is leading the way in asking whether at least part of the SEC's budget constraints are self-created due to its efforts to extend its attention to areas of the markets where neither history nor Dodd-Frank demand it.
Garrett made waves for Mary Schapiro last week by arguing that the SEC budget has tripled over the last 12 years and so keeping its federal appropriation relatively flat is not exactly "starving" the commission.
He also warned that rather than simply spending money to create a unified fiduciary standard for advisors and brokers, for example -- a task not expressly mandated by Dodd-Frank -- the SEC might be better served doing hard cost analysis of how proposed rules would justify the expense of enforcing them.
Given the fact that the SEC traditionally draws much of its operational funds from fines, this kind of "return on investment" approach has a certain logic, but needless to say, even hinting that a universal fiduciary code would be unnecessary is still going to make Garrett a lot of friends -- and enemies -- in the industry.