April 17th, 2010
03:48 PM ET
5 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. Scot

    We applaud the lawsuit against Goldman Sachs. Go on Mr President , take on these Republicans, grab them by their well-coifed stupid, arrogant, lying heads and bring them kicking and screaming into a better America!

    April 17, 2010 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  2. jimmm

    McConnell an dthe Repubs go against reform, while begging Wall St for money. Figures. How do the Tea Partiers feel about their party?

    April 17, 2010 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  3. brian in denver

    Imagine that! The GOP being deceptive? Would'a thunk it?

    April 17, 2010 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  4. Mike P

    Johnnyhouse said “Put up a bird feeder and you learn by observing nature about how too many people feel the government should work. It is a perfect working example of socialism. Leave the birds alone and they stay trim enough to fly and fend for themselves.”

    Yes, survival of the fittest works efficiently in nature. A herd, for example allows lions, hyenas, and jackals to thin the herd by picking off the old and sick. But, we’re not animals, we’re human beings. I’d like to think that we can do much better by our fellow citizens.

    April 17, 2010 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  5. Tony in Maine

    Keep it up, Mr. President. It's about time someone told the country that they're being lied to by the Republican leadership.

    April 17, 2010 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  6. Indy Pendent

    Again, the reporting here leaves a little to be desired. There is no other side to the story. We get to hear the President's remarks, and that is it? What about the $50B slush fund that is in the bill that even Obama balked at originally? Is that still in or was it taken out? Is Sen. Snowe and some other Republicans still working with some Dem's on a compromise? Is this bill being forced through as written?

    Can we at least hear both sides so we can make an informed decision?

    April 17, 2010 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  7. jimmm

    "Put up a bird feeder and you learn by observing nature about how too many people feel the government should work. It is a perfect working example of socialism. Leave the birds alone and they stay trim enough to fly and fend for themselves."

    ----------------------------

    That's what happened...and look where we are. We had regulations in place, but regulation caused the mess we are in.

    April 17, 2010 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  8. Weird behavior

    These moronic republicans keep spouting the party line: "quit trying to control our lives" or "quit taxing us" All the while they are collecting medicare, VA benefits, driving on highways paid for by taxes, counting on police and fire departments that are part of the government, etc. Yet you did not hear a peep from them when George Bush was making laws that take away our right to privacy as well as taxing the middle class while the rich go tax free. So why do they attack Obama and not the republicans? Is it they are lemmings for rightwing radio and Fox News?
    Is it because they feel someday they will be rich so they don't want to tax their future earnings? Or is it because he is black and successful and they are neither. Strange times for these fools.....

    April 17, 2010 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  9. P. D.

    This is a dumb move on the Republicans part. If they were smart, they wouldn't align themselves with the Big banks. What a group of idiots.

    April 17, 2010 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  10. Leftcoastblue

    President Obama needs to keep correcting the GOP lies, because our nation's future depends on an INFORMED ELECTORATE.

    Right Wing demagogues are constantly spouting utter nonsense and outright lies (e.g., "healthcare death panels," "missing birth certificates," "confiscating firearms," etc.). While it's not possible to keep them honest, just keeping track of their BS is a full-time job.

    April 17, 2010 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  11. erik in Iowa City

    From now, Obama should pretend to work with Republicans and then just ram things through. Quit wasting time attempting bipartisanship. It is too slow and lowers your poll numbers. Ram it through, Obama.

    April 17, 2010 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  12. BajaJohn

    Once again, the pasty-faced McConnell continues to lie for his campaign contributors but he is not the only Republican spreading lies these days, look at Joe the Bummer, the Judas of Politics, all of them with their hand out to Wall Street, while spreading the vicious lie they represent Main Street. These are shameless politicians, these Republicans are.

    April 17, 2010 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  13. JonDie

    It's not "deceptive". The GOP is the party of liars and lunatics.

    April 17, 2010 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  14. John M.

    I am very proud of the President today for calling out the likes of Senator McConnell!!! This Republican Senator and Representative have not and cannot provide common sense solutions to the problems we face today because they place their self-interests and those of the lobbyists who hold and grease their hands above the best interests of the country!

    Let us all who support the measures proposed by this administration let our voices be heard in the offices of all those in the Congress.

    April 17, 2010 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  15. Robert Zagrodzky

    The President should look at himself & his minions before critizing the Senate minority leader. They have little understanding of economics demonstrated by their the bankrupt the nation and policies that create a terrible unemployment and no ecomonic growth.

    April 17, 2010 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  16. Mike In Red State Kanass

    How in the heck is the red party going to convince those that are so blindly and I might add stupidly loyal to them that it is in their best interest to allow the money barons of wall street to keep the status quo? Their Red Herring lies and arguments are weaker than those they hood winked half of the country with on Health Care reform. If the red party follows them off the cliff on this one (and by the way they have golden parachutes, you don't) you have no alibi for your stupidity. Nuff Said!!!

    April 17, 2010 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  17. Chuck in Jasper Georgia

    Quite frankly it's about time that the President as well as all Democrats call these obstructionists out for what they are. The hell with ignor them they will go away. Everytime one of these misfits spits out a lie, they need to called out in the open for just that telling lies. It should have been done that way for the lies about illegal alines being authorized free health care, death panels for Grandma, etc. The republican party has exactly two forms of "functiioning", one is to use frearto convince people they are right and two, if fear, does not work, simply obstruct. Bunch of losers that do not care about America or its people.

    April 17, 2010 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  18. Howard

    Let's put some BLAME where it belongs, on congressional representatives like BARNEY FRANK and MAXINE WATERS who forced banks to make loans in high risk areas to people who were not qualified to have a loans.

    April 17, 2010 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  19. west coast conserv

    The United States of America has always been victorious over foreign invaders. B Hussein and his social progressives will soon find this out in Nov as well. Advise to the socialists....go back to Russia, Cuba, China or wherever else...they've been wondering why you left.

    April 17, 2010 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  20. harold

    The usual republcian.. fighting against Social Security back in 1935.. fought against Medicare in 1965.. see historynet.com....and fought against Health Insurance Reform this year.. and fightening against Reform of the wall street matter that brought us all down... Republicans are for us people are they?.. of course they are not for us....they like the Corporations real well..

    April 17, 2010 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  21. tacuache

    I wonder what the voters in Ohio and Kentucky think about paying their congressmen to sit around doing nothing?

    April 17, 2010 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  22. Albo58

    Perhaps the Republican leader should be "thanking" this President for all he has done and will do in the future? What an arrogant party hack this President is! Of course no one with half a brain trusts this President becuase the last 14 months have been an unmitigated disaster and I'm sorry Mr President, you don't rate a grade higher than a D-! Now, instead of rapidly throwing a wreckless bill together consisting of thousands of pages that no one will read, let's really institute reform that will NOT end in the government just taking over these institutions...what a concept!

    April 17, 2010 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  23. Howard

    The big "tax cut" that Obama is touting is because people do not have jobs so they owe less taxes. OPEN your EYES, and USE your BRAINS People. This is just more teleprompter smoke and mirrors

    April 17, 2010 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  24. MCD

    I fully agree! This country is run by the very wealthy. It is also time for ALL MAJOR CORPORATIONS to start paying their share of the tax bill insteading of hiding within loopholes and offshore accounts. If they aren't paying taxes, they shouldn't be running the country!

    April 17, 2010 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  25. beth

    You can tell by the tone of the Republicans who respond that they just hate our president. If they were thoughtfull enough to pay attention to what's going on they would see that he is a man who cares about what's best for all Americans. Unfortunately, because of the color of his skin or maybe just his party affiliation, they can look no farther. I'm glad that even my son(he's six with some learning disablilties) understands that people can have differences in beliefs, but you still love them. It is scary, the hate that's being displayed. I only hope that we don't have another Timothy McVeigh out there. By the way, the McVeigh interviews will be televised on Monday. All you Tea Partiers who are stirring up hate can enjoy the words of this dissenter as he declares..'children are fair game'. This movement scares me and why any group whose majority claim to be Fundamentalist Christians can be so full of hate is beyond me. Please stop and THINK....the first bailout was made under our last administration. It was the largest and was the one which bailed out Wall Street....please place the blame where it is due. Social Security and Medicare are 'SOCIALIST' programs too...if that's what you consider healthcare reform to be. And it won't bankrupt the country. There are plans in place that will actually cut the deficit by increasing the Medicare tax by a fraction of a % on people who make over $250,000.00. This isn't going to hurt these wealthy people and it will cover the costs of reform as well. It's not going to hurt business either. Toyota has already said that many of the plants they moved to Canada hey moved because there healthcare adds $100.00 to costs of producing a vehicle asw compared to here in the US. Without a national health care plan in tact...it was costing at least $1000.00 per vehicle produced. Spend some time checking the facts and less time spewing hate. You may be surprised, you may be happier....unless, it's only about winning...and not about what's best for the country.

    April 17, 2010 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13