Washington (CNN) – A top economic adviser to President Obama said Sunday that Wall Street should not be resisting Democratic efforts to impose new financial regulations in the wake of last year’s financial crisis.
“It was irresponsible risk-taking that brought the economy to the brink of collapse,” Lawrence Summers, the Director of Obama’s National Economic Council, said about Wall Street Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union. “It was their irresponsiblilty in many cases that brought the economy to collapse. And, frankly ... it wasn’t the first time.
Watch: Summers slams Wall Street
“And they don’t get, in some cases, that they wouldn’t be where they are today - and they certainly wouldn’t be paying the bonuses they’re paying today - if their government hadn’t taken extraordinary actions. Extraordinary actions, not frankly with the motivation of helping them, but with the motivation of helping the economy but of which they were nonetheless the beneficiary.”
Summers also told CNN Chief National Correspondent John King that it was “wrong” for Wall Street to be “complaining about serious regulation directed at making sure this never happens again.”
“For firms that have benefited from taxpayer support to be complaining about the government burdening them is, frankly, a bit rich,” Summers also said Sunday.
After receiving so much help from the public in the form of support from the federal government in the past year, Summers said “now the financial community’s got to think about its obligations to the country.”
Summers identified preventing another near-collapse of the entire financial system, improving the flow of credit, preventing foreclosures, and improving lending to small businesses as areas the president might discuss with the heads of some of the nation’s largest banks in a meeting set for Monday.
“The president is going to focus on what the bankers can do for their country, what obligations they should feel,” Summers told King.