April 17th, 2010
03:48 PM ET
12 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. get real

    Finish the sentence, "GOP united against....."

    So many options. What does one choose?

    The correct answer is, "all of the above."

    April 17, 2010 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  2. annie s

    The Republicans have taken lying to a new art form and it's time we don't tolerate it any more. The Dems need to be much more forceful about getting the truth out...the stimulus IS working and created 2.5 million jobs...taxes did go DOWN for 95% of all Americans....the health care bill is the farthest thing from a government takeover we could have passed...and Sarah Palin and Michele Bachman ARE inciting anger and potential violence.

    April 17, 2010 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  3. Jeremiah

    You know, for as worthless as Bush was, he never took shots at the other party's leaders like this guy does. Obama can't handle criticism and flies off the handle when someone doesn't agree with him. I'm sorry bud, but you and the rest of your cronies and the repubs are all liars. Welcome to reality, you are politiicans, it's what you are good at.

    April 17, 2010 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  4. Joe

    I'm glad to hear the president calling the Republicans on their endless game of lies and deception to confuse the public.

    "A lie unanswered is a lie believed."

    April 17, 2010 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  5. Wmscot

    Way to go Mr President !
    These ( GOP) guys want to go back to business as usual and have no over site. The deception of these folks ( like the health care issue) is obvious to any one who reads and does not listen to paid 30 sec sound bits or is swayed by the radical right wing talk shows. Keep up the heat and show the American public was schills these guys are !

    April 17, 2010 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  6. PK California

    Is this the article where Obama "slams" the GOP? But you change it to be "touts" . Is slams an attention grabber? Time to get the dictionary out and find a new word! SLAM means severe criticism, force, hit. Obama has never done any of that. I feel he explains what he is trying to do, to those who don't seem to understand. Editors, get your dictionary out and find a new word.

    April 17, 2010 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  7. db

    "Obama Slams GOP Leader." This is news? Maybe the first 50 or 60 times he did it.

    April 17, 2010 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  8. granny11

    I have yet to see any "common sense" approach to anything in this administration. The closest thing to it is Michele's rule in the White House of not letting the girls watch television or get on the computer during the week. Now that's what you call common sense.

    By the day this administration is pulling the country further into an abyss that sooner or later will allow the chickens to come home to roost. Mr. Obama, you may have a gifted tongue, but your actions and rhetoric and deals struck behind closed doors, violate every campaign promise you made. Consequently, our children and grandchildren will become prisoners of the government.

    April 17, 2010 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  9. Jan

    I'm glad President Obama is addressing the GOP Propaganda Machine early and often.

    Why Republican voters don't want financial reform is beyond me.

    Why you don't want to thank Obama for a tax CUT is beyond me. I just filled out Form M and we got an $800 tax REFUND!
    WAKE UP!!!

    April 17, 2010 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  10. Mike

    It is hard for me to understand why GOP is still being used as a tool by the wall street lobbyist to prevent any financial regulation???????

    April 17, 2010 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  11. down in the middle

    As any fool knows, the GOP is bought & paid for by the Wall Street & any other fat cat with a checkbook.

    April 17, 2010 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  12. A Concerned Young and Educated Minority

    wanna see the one deceiving american people, look in the mirror Mr. President!

    April 17, 2010 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  13. Jes Tarp

    The smallness of the democratic president has once again been demonstrated. His ideological agenda and partisan behavior shows his unfitness for the office.

    April 17, 2010 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  14. Kalina1

    I am not Obama's girl but I can tell he is fighting for reform that we need. Very frustrated with Mitch McConnell I am not baying what hi sass, it doesn't look like he is interested to protect me in the future. Is that how much the Republicans wont there power back even if its dead wrong to stay on the way of financial reform? I truly believe that one more economical hit and we will be pushed in to the ice age or meltdown, whatever? I don't wont Republicans to bet on my future just because they need money from billionaires to be their fundraisers. That's not why people put all those senators in Washington, stop being dogs and stop biting each other start thinking about me.

    April 17, 2010 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  15. wally

    Don't forget...there were Republicans involved in crafting the bill (just like health care reform)...and now they are against it. Again, the Party of Hell No speaks its opposition against the American People.

    April 17, 2010 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  16. Gerry NH

    The white house, senate and house are so corrupt why would anyone want them to reform anything.

    April 17, 2010 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  17. Bill from GA

    I have to wonder why the Repugs oppose this bill. Is it to leave banks unrestricted so they can repeat the recent fiasco" (For Repugs, the money's in the bank and from the bank.) Or is it their standard opposition to anything the Dems are doing to repair the damage of the last administration (can't let the Dems get credit for anything good!)?

    Either way, they don't care much for the USA.

    April 17, 2010 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  18. Robert

    Well it's refreshing to see Obama finally call McConnel out in his deceptive statements. His own hometown newspaper did. The man has no class and deserves no respect. I can only hope the people in his district have the sense to vote him out of office at his next erection.

    April 17, 2010 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  19. rdepontb

    Mr. President, THANK YOU for calling out Senator McConnell. These guys must truly believe the country is blind to their gaming us!!

    McConnell and Co met with Wall Street and then banged out a fear-mongering bit of trash, aimed again at stopping our country in its tracks. This cannot go on any longer. At this point, the Republicans have lost the "honorable opponent" party moniker-the leadership has become destructive to our very fabric.

    I hate to see you down in the trenches like this, but if that's where they think they want the fight, so be it. We have a country to run here, all of us, Democrats, Republicans, and Independents off all stripes.

    Go forward, Mr. President!

    April 17, 2010 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  20. Lynda/Minnestoa

    Get out of here! Another GOP filibuster?

    Well, well! Who'd have thought that the GOPers would so openly side with Wall Street a few months from mid-terms?

    Knee-Jerk *NO* Syndrome hits again, eh, GOPers?

    Looking forward to the GOP/T-pers talking points of Wall Street corruption as outlined by Frank Luntz talking points.

    April 17, 2010 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  21. Craig from LA

    This is bold common sense reform! Finally someone is stepping up to defend the common man from the corporate elite. Never again should we allow the greed and amorality of the wealthy elite and their congressional lap dogs to force a depression on the American people. All these blood-suckers should have been prosecuted, instead they take their billions and live the good life mocking the rest of us who have lost our jobs and are suffering foreclosure. There will be a reckoning in the November elections for Republicans that again step in to defend their corporate masters.

    April 17, 2010 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  22. Don't Let Obama Kill Capitalism

    Obama should know that Congress planted the seeds for our financial failure by forcing lenders to give loans to people based on their skin color and not their ability to repay the loans. Rahm Emanuel, Obama’s chief of staff, became rich by running the largest organization that disturbed the bad loans. Wall Street, on the other hand, made the US strong and greatly improved the standard of living of the entire world by encouraging competition and investiment in new technologies.

    April 17, 2010 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  23. Stella

    President Obama is right, Republicans are criminals, all they are doing is fight against our President. Period.

    April 17, 2010 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  24. Marty, FL

    America needs finance reform to protect consumers.

    If the GOP continues deceptive rhetoric and lies, let them filibuster...a REAL filibuster. Make Sen. Collins, Corker and other GOP stand before the American people trying to defend the indefensible.

    Let the tea partiers see the REAL Republicans siding with corporate bankers and hedge fund managers that greedily attributed to the financial collapse.

    Simply reveal the truth.

    April 17, 2010 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  25. Bill

    If there is anyone being "DECEPTIVE" in this whole episode it is the "GREAT ONE" obama himself. He is an expert in deceptive tactics, community organizers developed the practice and obama refined it.

    April 17, 2010 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
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