April 17th, 2010
03:48 PM ET
4 years ago

Obama touts financial reform, says GOP stance 'deceptive'

(CNN) - President Obama touted financial regulation reform in the weekly White House address released Saturday.

"The consequences of this failure of responsibility – from Wall Street to Washington – are all around us: 8 million jobs lost, trillions in savings erased, countless dreams diminished or denied," Obama said. "I believe we have to do everything we can to ensure that no crisis like this ever happens again. That's why I'm fighting so hard to pass a set of Wall Street reforms and consumer protections."

But in an address largely devoted to laying out the components of financial reform legislation, Obama also accused Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of deliberately misleading the public.

"[T]he Senate Republican Leader came out against the common-sense reforms we've proposed. In doing so, he made the cynical and deceptive assertion that reform would somehow enable future bailouts – when he knows that it would do just the opposite," Obama said.

Read the full remarks after the jump:

Remarks of President Barack Obama

As Prepared for Delivery

The White House

April 17, 2010

There were many causes of the turmoil that ripped through our economy over the past two years. But above all, this crisis was caused by failures in the financial industry. What is clear is that this crisis could have been avoided if Wall Street firms were more accountable, if financial dealings were more transparent, and if consumers and shareholders were given more information and authority to make decisions.

But that did not happen. And that's because special interests have waged a relentless campaign to thwart even basic, common-sense rules – rules to prevent abuse and protect consumers. In fact, the financial industry and its powerful lobby have opposed modest safeguards against the kinds of reckless risks and bad practices that led to this very crisis.

The consequences of this failure of responsibility – from Wall Street to Washington – are all around us: 8 million jobs lost, trillions in savings erased, countless dreams diminished or denied. I believe we have to do everything we can to ensure that no crisis like this ever happens again. That's why I'm fighting so hard to pass a set of Wall Street reforms and consumer protections. A plan for reform is currently moving through Congress.

Here's what this plan would do. First, it would enact the strongest consumer financial protections ever. It would put consumers back in the driver's seat by forcing big banks and credit card companies to provide clear, understandable information so that Americans can make financial decisions that work best for them.

Next, these reforms would bring new transparency to financial dealings. Part of what led to this crisis was firms like AIG and others making huge and risky bets – using things like derivatives – without accountability. Warren Buffett himself once described derivatives bought and sold with little oversight as "financial weapons of mass destruction." That's why through reform we'd help ensure that these kinds of complicated financial transactions take place on an open market. Because, ultimately, it is a marketplace that is open, free, and fair that will allow our economy to flourish.

We would also close loopholes to stop the kind of recklessness and irresponsibility we've seen. It's these loopholes that allowed executives to take risks that not only endangered their companies, but also our entire economy. And we're going to put in place new rules so that big banks and financial institutions will pay for the bad decisions they make – not taxpayers. Simply put, this means no more taxpayer bailouts. Never again will taxpayers be on the hook because a financial company is deemed "too big to fail."

Finally, these reforms hold Wall Street accountable by giving shareholders new power in the financial system. They'll get a say on pay: a vote on the salaries and bonuses awarded to top executives. And the SEC will ensure that shareholders have more power in corporate elections, so that investors and pension holders have a stronger voice in determining what happens with their life savings.

Now, unsurprisingly, these reforms have not exactly been welcomed by the people who profit from the status quo – as well their allies in Washington. This is probably why the special interests have spent a lot of time and money lobbying to kill or weaken the bill. Just the other day, in fact, the Leader of the Senate Republicans and the Chair of the Republican Senate campaign committee met with two dozen top Wall Street executives to talk about how to block progress on this issue.

Lo and behold, when he returned to Washington, the Senate Republican Leader came out against the common-sense reforms we've proposed. In doing so, he made the cynical and deceptive assertion that reform would somehow enable future bailouts – when he knows that it would do just the opposite. Every day we don't act, the same system that led to bailouts remains in place – with the exact same loopholes and the exact same liabilities. And if we don't change what led to the crisis, we'll doom ourselves to repeat it. That's the truth. Opposing reform will leave taxpayers on the hook if a crisis like this ever happens again.

So my hope is that we can put this kind of politics aside. My hope is that Democrats and Republicans can find common ground and move forward together. But this is certain: one way or another, we will move forward. This issue is too important. The costs of inaction are too great. We will hold Wall Street accountable. We will protect and empower consumers in our financial system. That's what reform is all about. That's what we're fighting for. And that's exactly what we're going to achieve.

Thank you.


Filed under: Mitch McConnell • Popular Posts • President Obama • Wall Street
soundoff (305 Responses)
  1. Marie MD

    Mr. President you keep on with your ideas to help all Americans. The repugs are against anything you say or do. You can't change that. It's too bad that those who are protesting so much against your administration will also be receiving help.

    April 17, 2010 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  2. JPB

    Republic NO!!! go home

    April 17, 2010 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  3. JES

    Why don't you fix your own house first balance the budget and stop all this spending.

    How can you have the nerve to say you need to fix private companines when you continue to spend our tax dollars sending us deeper into debt.

    Fix the government first.

    April 17, 2010 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  4. Chad from Tampa

    Obama, you are the problem! Stop taxing us, stop trying to control every aspect of our lives! Americans do not like BIG Gov!

    April 17, 2010 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  5. Mark from Louisiana

    The Obama administration told Senate Democrats Friday to drop a proposed $50 billion fund designed to finance
    the liquidation of a big financial institution facing collapse, a victory for Senate Republicans opposed to government-supervised and government-funded corporate bailouts.

    "The fund was not in our original proposal we announced almost a year ago and we don't feel it is an essential part of final legislation," a senior administration source told Fox. "The President will only sign a bill if it passes the test of putting an end to bailouts."

    April 17, 2010 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  6. browbeater

    Just more spin from the liar in chief. This is chapter two in the book of tyranny and control. I"ll believe the dems really care about financial reform when they accept responsibility for their part in the collapse of the mortgage market. Can you say community reinvestment act or Barney Frank.

    April 17, 2010 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  7. JES

    How come you always think your way is the right way.

    Only one person that's right all the time and that is GOD oh I forgot you think you are GOD.

    Give the people a break and fix the government first then you might have the right to go after other companies.

    April 17, 2010 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  8. Perusing-through

    HYPOCRITES – HYPOCRITES – HYPOCRITES

    Go get'em Mr. President. The Republican-GOP are such hypocrites.

    Last year the GOP 'cried wolf' against bank bailouts. Now, they have reversed their positions and are betting their political careers to ensure banks get bailouts is the future.

    What a wicked bunch of hypocrites!

    April 17, 2010 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  9. Doreen

    Get after them and expose them for the hypocrites they are, Mr. President. Mitch McConnell...YOU LIE!

    April 17, 2010 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  10. Steve

    I do not believe any bank reform can be successful unless there is reform of the ratings agencies. If the ratings agencies had properly identified the subprime derivatives as the dogs they were, the bubble would have never occurred. There would be no need for additional oversite because it would have been obvious that what was being sold was garbage.

    April 17, 2010 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  11. Steve in North Carolina

    After the so called Medical Reform Bill he touted, he wonders why some are cynical?

    April 17, 2010 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  12. Moderate

    Good for you Mr. President. They won the war of lies and words with very little truth being spewed from they talking heads. It's time America knows what we are seeing. The economy is turning around. I am a business owner in resort development and watched the economy and my business die under Bush. I am now seeing it come back under your wise leadership. That's a fact!

    Let's tell the world and let the GOP worm their way out of that one!

    April 17, 2010 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  13. Perusing-through

    REPUBLICAN-GOP SPIN = GIGANTIC LIES

    The GOP spin against financial reform is worst than political spin. They are telling blatant lies.

    The Republicans are protecting the interest of Wall Street and their bank lobbyist, against the interest of the American middle-class. While the GOP line their pockets with lobby money from banks, the taxpayers get stuck with the tab.

    April 17, 2010 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  14. Patriot

    If the reforms came from a Republican President, they would be hailed as a genius. However, it is stating the obvious that because this came from a Democratic President, it is creeping government take over blah, blah, blah....

    As an indepdendent, all you Tea Partier"s take note, it is hard to take the conservative movement seriously given the bankruptcy of ideas.

    April 17, 2010 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  15. Marge

    How can republicans go along with financial reform. That would mean their lobbying money will disappear. I mean after all they have their heads so far up the big banks and wall street butt it's all they can do to breath.

    Obstruct, obstruct, full speed ahead with obstructing. I think it is time the Democrats one and all MADE PALINS DUMB BUTT MEDIA post the real facts. She calls them lame stream...well they are brain dead from so much republican fumes.

    April 17, 2010 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  16. The Clear Thinking Indepedent

    The Democrats are fools if they let the GOP off the hook on this partisan vote against financial regulation.

    Let America never forget that on the day they obstructed tighter regulation of exotic financial derivatives, Goldman Sachs was charged by the SEC with fraudulent behavior.

    April 17, 2010 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  17. MJM

    You must have the GOP confused with yourself! Your the deceptive one.

    April 17, 2010 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  18. SNAPPA

    Listen, lets face it Mr. President no matter what you propose or what you do they will never, ever side with you. The reason is clear, they do not want you to look the achiever they need you to fail and in turn they need the country to fail because all they care about it taking back power so they can sit on their hands again and do nothing. Goldman Sachs is one of many wall street firms that did the US wrong and now we are all paying for it. I think most of Americans would welcome some common sense reforms for wall street and the banking industry, sadly most of the republicans have friends in high places in those institutions like the health care and you can expect a fight from them. Very sad.

    April 17, 2010 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  19. citizen

    Mitch McConnell is an idiot, a pawn and a parrot for the lines the Republican political strategists feed him. He doesn't even understand the bills that he opposes. He has no clue how to lead, how to govern, or how to legislate. Give it right back to him, Mr. President. Expose the ignorance, fraud and power mongering that it the driving force behind all McConnell's statements.

    April 17, 2010 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  20. Perusing-through

    ERIC CANTOR and MITCH McCONNELL ARE LYING – - AGAIN

    Another attempt by Republican Obstructionists to "bamboozle" the American taxpayers. The GOP complained heavily in 2009 about bank bailouts, and now they have a great opportunity to do something about it, they are actually trying to help Wall Street take from Main Street. The Republican GOP are a bunch of evil hypocrites.

    April 17, 2010 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  21. tess

    the only politics o'bumbo wants to put aside are anything that disagrees with his! the man is a megalomaniac on steriods!!!!!!!!!!!i i really think that he is beginning to lose sight of reality and it is getting scary.

    April 17, 2010 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  22. Socrates in Leominster

    The attitude of republican politicians is not to be concerned about the wellness of the country... they are more interested in trying to make the current government look bad doesn't matter it it is doing things for the best of the country. They are selfish and greedy and they culd care less about people that perhaps need some help. The funny thing is that they claim they believe in God. The bottom line is.. they are selfish, greedy, hateful.. and they think they are superior to blacks or spanish or oriental.. But.. in this life any thing bad.. always has an end. The GOP will fade away with time.. they are as radical and extremist as Al Queida is. Mention to them the 4,300 young soldiers dead.. mention to them the 36,000 wounded eomotionally and physically soldiers.. and mention to them the Wall Street debacle. They don't want regulation because they are the prostitues of Wall Street.

    April 17, 2010 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  23. Livin' the good life

    Sorry but, there is NO way (borrowing from the relics' vocabulary) they [the relics'] are going to do anything but play sore losers. They are a bunch of spoiled brats and do not and cannot "play" as adults. They should be sent to their rooms or made to stand in the corner. I cannot believe that they want to be in control! They are SO much like a child that does not get their "way". It is sad and time for a new direction. America has become more diverse than ever and this is the 21st century. We cannot afford to go back in time! NOW is the time for the current administration to continue to step up to the plate and lead America in the direction of greatness again and forget about all the babbling from the kids and move forward with the important issues at hand. If they continue to act like children, then treat them as such!Such display of infantilizm. Beau Colby

    April 17, 2010 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  24. Typical!

    Common Obama, the GOP is merely doing what they are paid to do, protect the interests of their wealthy donors at the expense of the rest of the voters.

    Remember, now all the Republican "mavericks" are gone.

    April 17, 2010 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  25. Tony (Dallas)

    Why cant Dem and the Repub just do something great for the good of the people, why? why? why?
    why i never voted for Obama i am neither a Dem or Repub but i think this Guy is somehow sincere and honest, i dont really understand why , imagine "the Leader of the Senate Republicans and the Chair of the Republican Senate campaign committee met with two dozen top Wall Street executives to talk about how to block progress on this issue." if this is really true.......then Repub will be the one to suffer the Consequence come November election.........even though i dont support some of his policies....common there are some positive changes we are noticing around us..........even the blind can see it........
    common Mitch McConnell stop playing with the emotion of the people and stop been deceptive.
    Tony from Dallas

    April 17, 2010 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
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