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. A young educated minority

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

    April 17, 2010 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  2. L

    Don't now about others, but the crooked Wall Street deals wiped out 10 years of growth in my retirement funds - and that's even after heeding the warnings about the real estate bubble and carefully avoiding the such investments for years.

    After this week's revelations about Goldman Sach's manipulations how can the Republicans not be outraged. They claim to protect the people but are silent while we've been robbed blind by the big investment houses.

    April 17, 2010 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  3. Laurie

    Your hope is my hope President Obama. It won't happen. But thank you for trying.

    April 17, 2010 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  4. wbn

    President Obama is going to have to stop "calling oiut" everyone who disagrees with him (Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, FOX News, etc.); umpires in the game of baseball who respond to the crowd are said to have "rabbit ears." Presdienst need to be above this personal approach. President Bush was always a gentleman and a statesman; he never once retailiated when even being called vicious names (liar, traitor, coward, etc.) by people such as Pelosi, Reid, and Kennedy, as well as tons of folks in the mainline media. One thing that troubles many of us across America is how defensive this sitting president is; he often presents himself as arrogant, petty, and vindictive. Moreover, he is seemingly so unsure about himself (defensiveness is a sign of a deep lack of self esteem) that he has to name and challenge anyone who disagrees with him. Sad.

    April 17, 2010 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  5. Michael

    All you have to do is look at the amount of money being funneled...and that will be funneled...into Republican coffers by the financial and banking industries to see where the Republicans' true allegiance lies. They care more about the financial industry than they do about The United States of America and her people.

    April 17, 2010 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  6. Eric-31m

    lol. Obama has the nerve to talk about deception. lol

    April 17, 2010 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  7. j

    The best thing the Republicans know how to do is lie and mislead.

    April 17, 2010 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  8. tochi

    The financial manipulators of wall street brought the country to its knees and ruined lives of millions .They made billions while the country bled trillions, these criminals have to be reined in.

    April 17, 2010 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  9. Frank

    The cynical distortions of the GOP are a political circular firing squad. It had control of Congress for 14 years and the White House for eight years. The postings blaming President Obama for any of this (fyi, all presidents since Lyndon Johnson have used teleprompters, Bush simply could not always read his) are pure nonsense.

    April 17, 2010 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  10. Joan, Cantonment Florida

    ...Democrats and Republicans finding common ground? Doubtful in my lifetime. Our President has his hands full with both parties and their common law children, the coffee and tea children. But He will always be in my prayers. God Bless Him. My recommendation to him is the same as John F. Kennedy's, "Forgive your enemies, but remember their names."

    April 17, 2010 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  11. katiec

    This should be the final straw for anyone who has any doubts about where the republicans stand for their big business, financial institutions. They are, as usual, willing to sacrifice the American people, striving to continue on with the diasters they created, personal gains, unAmerican goals, power and greed,
    We need not worry about foreign terrorists when we have a political party willing and striving to destroy our country all for their win at any

    April 17, 2010 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  12. lib

    Anybody today who does not see the GOP for the criminals that they are and those who continue to criticize our President are truly wearing Blinders. Either that or your hatred of President Obama has very much consumed you. Great Job President Obama. Time to put your foot on the neck of these thieves! Continue the good work.

    April 17, 2010 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  13. Willy Brown

    Don't worry Barry. Th erepublicans will be back in charge in November and they will teach you on how to be a pResident.

    April 17, 2010 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  14. Ed, Santa Fe, NM

    Obama is right.... The GOP will lie or do whatever it takes to make Obama fail..... even to ther point of another DEPRESSION...


    April 17, 2010 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  15. Jilli

    The major difference between Obama and the republicans is that Obama is working to prevent another economic disaster, and the republicans are working to regain power and protect the bankers

    McConnell is either willfully ignorant or is deliberately lying like a dog. He's reading Frank Luntz's talking points, and is deliberately deceiving the public. After meeting with bankers, McConnell chose to protect them for the payoff of future campaign contributions. The 50 billion dollar bailout fund is provided by the banks, not the American taxpayer. Inform yourselves.

    It's sad to see many commenters cave to their bitterness and partisianship and side with protecting bankers and the status quo.

    Never underestimate the stupidity of some.

    April 17, 2010 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  16. Livin' the good life

    You can tell who the more informed and intelligent people are here on these blogs/comments by just looking at the way they convey themselves. The ones that come across with info to back up their comments as opposed to the ones who just SCREAM, overuse punctuation marks and do nothing else but act as bullies. I find pleasure in just skipping over that retoric. Beau Colby

    April 17, 2010 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  17. El Gordo

    There are two kinds of Conservatives:
    1. Those who make up lies
    2. Those who believe and repeat the lies invented by group 1.

    For example, the plain truth is that:
    A. Obama reduced taxes on almost all Americans.

    B. No one forced the banks to make bad loans to those with swarthy complexions. That is a lie concocted out of thin air by those who knew better.

    The Republican leadership does not give a crap about the middle class (or the "Loser Class" as they are referred to by Republicans among themselves.), their welfare, their happiness, their children, or the future of this nation. America's Conservative leadership is divided into two groups: the evil and the stupid.

    These facts are as plain as day. Those who cannot see that need medication and therapy.

    April 17, 2010 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  18. Dave from PA

    To the great people of Massachusetts,
    I spent 3 of the best years of my life in Massachusetts.
    The people there are in my opinion some of the best on the planet.
    But what in the world were you thinking last November.
    This person that you elected to the Senate opposes this financial reform bill and does not know why. He was asked and had no answer.
    I'm pretty sure he will oppose everything else that our Great President brings up going forward and he may not know why.
    If reconciliation is possible and appropriate here also, then it needs to be invoked again, and again, and again.
    We cannot let our Great Nation be held hostage to a Rupublican Party that is hell-bent on trying to make it fail.

    April 17, 2010 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  19. Papasan in Az

    Wall Street got the Bail Out & that's why the DEFICIT is ballooning!
    Main Street USA got nothing, and continues to be left hanging while Wall Street is raking in record [Dow over 11,000] PROFITS!

    Wake up America! Main Street will never see any real form of HELP.
    Time to help yourselves and look after your own interests, we can no longer wait for Washington to toss a couple of dollars our way
    [where is the Unemployment Extension Bill], make the Banks stop foreclosing [where is the HELP], and Big Business sending JOBS over seas [Big Business as usual].

    If you already tightened your belts, grab the end and tug it tighter, we are in for a long haul. That's how Mom & Dad, Grand Pa & Granny made it through the last Depression, so quit crying, whining and moaning, WE ARE ON OUR OWN!

    Papasan in AZ

    April 17, 2010 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  20. Dopey Democrats

    Except for a fawnng media who keep pushing him on us, Americans really don't care what that Communist idiot, Obama, has to say!

    April 17, 2010 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  21. Willow

    In 05 and 06 the IMF and World Bank issued stark warnings to the Bush administration and Wall Street of the dire consequences to not only the US economy, but the global markets as well, unless the government and financial markets addressed the immediate threats.

    Those threats were defined as US rapid increasing deficit to pay for 2 wars, Katrina and Frddy and Fannie. Wall Street was warned that the over-leveraged mortgage markets could bring down their markets. The US government adminstration, under George Bush, was admonished to immediately seized upont these threats and take steps to remedy them.

    Now today the republicans, who voted with Bush have the gall and "ignorant" audacity to try and block reform to prevent this from happening again.

    Do the republicans never learn from their mistakes?????

    April 17, 2010 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  22. Kevin in Oly

    Every comment I've read posted here that sides with the Republican position (i.e. against everthing that Obama stands for) contains absolutely no substance. Just mindless and pointless mud slinging. For example:

    He is an expert in deceptive tactics, community organizers developed the practice and obama refined it. and:

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

    Just a couple of examples. Clueless. Absolutely clueless. What these boneheads don't realize or want to accept is the fact that most
    of the steps Obama has to take now is to remedy the putrid mismanagement of the last eight years.

    April 17, 2010 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  23. perumal

    If you read the posts from the anti-Obama kooks you notice they all say the same thing–you're the liar, look in the mirror, bib government is bad, blah, blah, blah. No one dares to talk about the issues. Is Wall Street corrupt? Did Goldman Sachs do something that needs to be remedied? Is Obama trying to rectify the obvious wrongs of this crisis? What are the Republican ideas? What did Bush do to try to fix Wall Street? Why are they blocking every effort the Democrats make, even efforts to extend unemployment benefits? Get intelligent and civil, don't just demonize the President.

    April 17, 2010 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  24. sandy, Henderson, NV

    I think it is time for another televised meeting between the president and the congressional members. That worked out well for health care. I personnally love it when the GOP members squirm in front of the cameras.

    April 17, 2010 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  25. willard bullock

    I will not trust of presdient obama cause he looking like keep dangerous of his musilims so why musilims man was shooting of 13 people at fort hood texas

    April 17, 2010 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
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