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. Tracy-Oakley

    If the current system allows 8 million jobs lost, trillions in savings erased, countless homes lost and home value diminished then why wouldn't the GOP rush to support financial reform? Maybe they're invested and support in the country continuing failures.

    April 17, 2010 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  2. SkiDoc

    Rubbish. This guy is starting to believe his own teleprompter. As if the health care fiasco isn't putting us in the financial toilet fast enough, he now wants"reform" that will take business and any hope of maintaining economic stability into total despair. Oh......November can't come soon enough!!

    April 17, 2010 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  3. sandy

    Go gettem Mr. President. The American people are sick and tired of the lies the Republicans are spewing across TV land. Their main objective is to bring down this President and it doesn't matter how they do it. Stand behind our President Americans.

    April 17, 2010 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  4. BobH

    It's sad that even a fairly weak, common-sense bill like this is facing opposition. Ideally, the bill would also cap the holdings of the banks at 100 billion (as opposed to the TRILLIONS they now control).

    But the current bill is at least a step in the right direction.

    April 17, 2010 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  5. shamgar50

    Fight the Party of No, Mr. President. Stand-up for the American People, not Big Business!

    April 17, 2010 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  6. Sarah the baby seal basher

    Old turtlehead knows hes going into retirement soon and taking payoffs he will never get to spend.hahaha

    April 17, 2010 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  7. Patti

    He is doing what he was elected to do and I am proud of my President.

    April 17, 2010 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  8. Jeff

    Will this man EVER take the high-road and just let his underlings take the cheap shots? Be presidential for God's sakes. Sorry, I meant "your chosen belief's higher power-sakes".

    April 17, 2010 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  9. Alex

    We desperately need financial reform, just like we desperately need health care reform and extending unemployment benefits. All things good for the PEOPLE of this country (maybe not so much for the greedy corporations). The Republicans know it. Sadly, they would rather say "no" to everything this President puts on the table.

    They need money for the upcoming elections. Where do you think it's coming from? Look into it: health insurance companies and Wall Street fat cats.

    Republicans = Party over Country.

    These people should be truly embarrassed.

    April 17, 2010 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  10. kennywest

    Mitch McConnell debating Obama? this should be funny.

    April 17, 2010 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  11. Ryan

    Go President Obama!!! I swear, Is there anything this man can't do!? He's absolutely amazing and it's astounding how there can be any opposition to him in the first place considering the facts that pork projects have decreased, the market & unemployment have reversed direction, I and many others got tax breaks, healthcare passed, all Americans have hospitol visitation rights, our schools and roads are being rebuilt slowly but surely (better then wasting it legislation on tax breaks for greedy wall st. Execs...aka: corporate welfare)....

    And he speaks the truth: Mitch mcConnell did have a meeting with the wall street fat cats about protecting them from the law next time they decide to rob us. Only would a GOP'er be that stupid and evil!

    April 17, 2010 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  12. rh5

    Break the big banks up, no bank should be bigger than 100 billion. Then they would never be to big to fail.

    April 17, 2010 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  13. Todd A

    So a republican lied and is misleading the American people? What else is new?

    April 17, 2010 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  14. Kevin

    Very ironic to me that he says the senate Republican leader is "cynical and deceptive" and in the very next breath utters: "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."

    Which is it?

    April 17, 2010 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  15. Jobless Recovery

    Narcissist in Chief + Campaigner in Chief = socialist mediocrity for future USA. Obama has served notice to every moderate dem, rep, or independent that he will continue to radically transform this nation with socialist programs whose unfunded entitlements will bankrupt ALL Americans and there is nothing you can do about it.

    April 17, 2010 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  16. call me crazy

    Something I've noticed from the party of no, is the current strategy now is to accuse the other side with doing exactly what they themselves are already doing. It is like accusing the other side of littering as they throw their trash on the ground.

    I know it is confusing, but the reason is basically to beat the other side to the punch. The reason is so if someone tries to turn it on them, it sounds like the opposition is just repeating the accusation against them and it has less credibility. I don't think it is very effective except to the simple minded supporters that are already brainwashed with right wing propaganda. Unfortunately, these are my neighbors and friends.

    April 17, 2010 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  17. ib

    Let us all bow down to King Obama and turn controll of everything in our lives over to the gov. after all that's what he and the liberals want so why not. The gov. then can furnish everything we need from the cradle to the grave. Now all bow and obey.

    April 17, 2010 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  18. Larry

    Here's the saddest untold part of this story. The lies that Mitch McConnell is telling in order to stop this reform will find a receptive audience among the Fox News-Tea Party crowd. The public will once again be duped and encouraged to vote against their own best interests.

    April 17, 2010 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  19. Anonymous

    I challenge McConnell to show specific parts of the bill to support his assertions. Republicans need a new hook to hang thier November elecetion plan on and they are using our financial security to do it.
    The longer the healthcare bill ois out there for poepel to see, the more they see that they will benefit form it, no lose. The same will be true of this bill.
    The usual lies about cost are not in play with this reform- there is no cost to the comon man for this bills passage.
    OK- Mc Connell- put up or shut up.

    April 17, 2010 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  20. Dr. Virginia Lubell

    Being a Coffee Party member I have to say ... 'Work Together' and curb the Transnationals ... from insurance companies, financial institutions, energy corporations, water companies and all the others who have been given license to move around the globe causing havoc and eating up other smaller companies and doing as they want without consequences.

    We must stop the Transnationals and regain our sovereignty. GOP and Democrats ... both of you must acknowledge that you've given Transnationals freedoms unseen before ... now is the time to rethink this type of global economy and act.

    April 17, 2010 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  21. bettyboop33

    Gop,(Great Obstructionist Party) Party of know nothing, DO nothing.
    Mitch Mcconnell: perfect example of the blind leading the blind. America needs financial regulation reform, the taxpayers are not going to stand for bailing out on wall street. It's time for accountability.

    April 17, 2010 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  22. Dave

    Mr. President................I'll believe Mr. McConnel long before I'll believe you! You are absolutely running the country into the ground.
    National Security............going down hill under you.....worse than under President Carter
    Health Care..........going down hill under you.........your socialist tendancies show the strongest here
    Space program............I'm sick about this one.........we will be a third rate space country by the time your done with 4 years
    National Debt...........we are spending like drunkin sailors.........God help us

    Oh we got change..............not change anyone imagined. Destructive Change. But we got what many voted for. Hope they like it.

    Dave

    April 17, 2010 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  23. cjl

    Unfortunately I think McConnell's sentiment is in one way or another correct. The dem solution is to put stronghanded regulations on the financial community and engrain the government in the minutia of the system so that in times of potential trouble, they can swoop in like faux-superman and 'save the world' – or when they need political points. That will typically be vial bailout or dismantling of an entity – neither of which are good things .

    April 17, 2010 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  24. phoenix86

    Interesting to see Thug Politics in full mode from Obama. His administration didn't hesitate to erase billions of dollars in investor savings on the stock market (401k's included) to put political pressure to pass an ineffective bill.

    I wonder how we can allow an elected official to violate the Constitution before we remove him from office? Obamacare violated Article 1, Section 8 and we do nothing. Amazing how Americans so freely give up the liberties our founders fought so hard to gain.

    April 17, 2010 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  25. Ralph Malany

    Appreciate the energies and talents that are being spent to bring about
    this surely needed reform and I endorse the legislation being
    purposed. Thank you for looking out for my interests.

    April 17, 2010 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
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