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. JohnRJ08

    When a multi-billion dollar banking institution fails, it has ramifications for investors and the companies being invested in. It also impacts many jobs. Asking those institutions to cover the costs of their own funerals made a lot of sense to me. Since it was their funds rather than from the Treasury, plus the fact that the money would only be used AFTER the institution had failed, I never thought of it as a "bail-out". Only Mitch McConnell and the Republicans in Congress could come up with that malarkey.

    April 17, 2010 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  2. Jane

    Why do I feel like we are in a reality world show?? A president that has to comment on everything someone says that is negative–whether it is a politician, activist, or commentator. Makes me wonder how he has the time to run the country when he constantly has the time to worry and speak about things other people say. Maybe this is a reality show and others are running our country' Obama is just the commentator.

    April 17, 2010 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  3. Lee Oates

    Its good to see someone take regulation seriously. These banks and Wallstreet have ruined the country. You can bet their putting large sums of money into the pockets of crooked Senators and Representatives to block the bill (mostly Republican I'll bet). I would also bet that there are many a plot being hatched to assinate President Obama. You want to see the bought off politicans, watch who votes against it. Keep the pressue on President Obama.

    April 17, 2010 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  4. Ridgeway

    Half of the people are paying taxes to support the other half (Obama voters) and he's using the working half's money to bail out the economy. Lying, Commie, entitlement loving, illegitimate, empty suited, basketball playing, snake tongued creep describes he and his voting base.

    April 17, 2010 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  5. John Rosati

    Having lived in Kentucky for 43 of my 65 years, I can tell you that Mitch is one big liar. He is only interested in power, power, power. To hell with the country as long as the GOP wins!

    April 17, 2010 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  6. Roger

    Obama you have cintinually deceived and disgraced our great country - ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!!!

    April 17, 2010 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  7. Terry from West Texas

    The "bipartisan" concept was exploited by the Republican leadership with a complete lack of sincerity. Negotiating with Conservatives is like negotiating with North Korea. They want concessions for themselves and they give nothing but excuses for delay.

    Now I think that Democrats, hopefully led by the few good Liberals in Congress, should call their bluff. Put the bill in the Senate, call for a vote, and let them filibuster and lie for six months. However, Democrats should not agree to a single compromise. Of course, if a Republican or a Democrat can think of a way to make the bill a better bill, then fine, let's amend it. But other than that, let the simple-minded foghorns of Conservatism play their melancholy tune. Let them repeat the twelve platitudes of their simple philosophy using exactly the same concepts and language that was used by Herbert Hoover, who was the most recent Republican president with an above average IQ.

    Well that's not true. Eisenhower was a gifted leader and Nixon was sharp as a tack. I exaggerated a little.

    April 17, 2010 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  8. Annie, Atlanta

    It's about time Democrats come out strong against the deception that is ruling the Republicans these days. And the lies McConnell is spreading thanks to Frank Luntz's talking points. Enough already.

    The GOP is ready to destroy this country in order to regain control, and it has to stop. And we have to ask what we will get if they regain control? The Corporate States of America, or the Wall Street States of America? Women, gays, and people of color stripped of their rights? Think about this. What are they willing to do to satisfy the extreme right bigoted fringe; the ones they're all catering to?

    April 17, 2010 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  9. Chuck

    Mitch is a loser!!!!!! He is in bed with all the rich in this country. He does not care about the average person on Main Street. He looks like a left over munchen from the Coutry of Oz.

    April 17, 2010 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  10. johnnyhouse

    He would be the one to know what deception is, that is for sure.This government is more closed than the old Kremlin was.

    April 17, 2010 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  11. jimbo

    Obama certainly should be able to recognize a lie when he hears it, he has told enough of them. The provision in question was a bailout provision you fools. didn't we just go through that?

    April 17, 2010 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  12. Not All Docs Play Golf

    Mitch McConnell spent his whole political career in my home state of Kentucky doing everything to protect the tobacco industry by saying his famous NO to any regulatory legislation, while he took big cigarette money. Thus, he has no credibilty for any of his other list of robotic Republican NO's, especially on health care and Wall Street reform.

    April 17, 2010 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  13. Jon

    This president is arrogant and spends our money even more than the last administration. Then he thinks we should thank him for our taxes? Gross. I am a registered democrat and with that attitude, he will ensure Republican victory in the fall. Stop the wasteful spending Mr. President.

    April 17, 2010 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  14. johnnyhouse

    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.

    April 17, 2010 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  15. Prescios

    Everything about this President is always "historic", "first", "since...." only". I wouldn't be surprised if all this bickering and divide that is going on, will eventually make him "the only African American to ever serve as 'President' of the USA".... I wonder!

    April 17, 2010 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  16. Chris

    Don't you know Republicans believe all regulations are unnecessary and counter-productive. After all, bussinessmen – especially those dealing with billions of dollars – will never let themsevels be misled by greed, and will always work selflessly and responsibly for the common good. Doesn't the Invisible Hand of the Marketplace teach us that those who abuse the system for short term gains, ultimately lose long term profits. So the free market will always self regulate.

    If I could use an analogy: if people commit crimes, they know they'll go to jail. Therefore, no one will ever commit crimes. So having things like laws, police, and prison is just a big waste and serves only to hinder everybody's personal freedom. The same is true in the business world with regulations.

    April 17, 2010 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  17. Joe M.

    Read the WSJ article on the financial reform bill being currently proposed by Dodd that was published on April 16th. It says how the bill still has a lot wrong with it, but is moving in the right direction. Given enough time, the bill may do some good.

    However, Obama, as usual, calls it a crisis that needs to be resolved immediately with no time to actually get the law right. The bill needs to do it right, and it needs time to get it right.

    April 17, 2010 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  18. jane

    So Republicans are "united in oppositions against" once again. What else is new?

    April 17, 2010 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  19. CR

    McConnell sounds silly defending Wall Street at the expense of the American consumer. Republicans clearly do not represent the interests of average people.

    April 17, 2010 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  20. vlj in mn

    I love the President's strategy... Call the GOP out early, and often, on their misleading rhetoric. As far as I can tell, rhetoric is their only weapon. They have NO solutions or new ideas. Keep putting the pressure on, Mr. President!

    April 17, 2010 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  21. Marty, FL

    Finance reform will put much-needed provisions in place to avoid another economic collapse, protecting Americans from the preventable waste of taxpayer bailouts. That is simply the facts.

    Sen. McConnell outright lied, and his own newspaper called him out on the deceptive rhetoric. Please research the article from the Lexington Herald-Leader. It's an interesting read.

    Godspeed on reform, Mr. President.

    April 17, 2010 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  22. ben

    Every comment I see here defending Obama contains no substance and gives not one piece of factual information regarding this bill. So how can you argue for the bill when you do not provide any type of factual information?? The same goes for the other side of the aisle. I agree with the opposition in opposing this bill until further facts come out about it. The bill has not been finished and is being delayed. Obama's policy is to vote on it before it is finished so nobody can know what is in it. That's what HC was all about and admitted by Pelosi herself.

    April 17, 2010 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  23. cspurgeon

    Right on and if these republicans don't help fix this issue they all need to be removed. Changes ok, suggestions ok but a vote of no in favor of banks is totally wrong. Put McConnel on the same bus with Reid..headed out of town.

    April 17, 2010 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  24. Larry

    President Obama will go down in history as one of the best presidents this country has ever had.

    Thanks for your hard work, Mr. President.

    April 17, 2010 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  25. If We Can Defeat Him On Healthcare, It Will Be His Waterloo

    Mtich the Turtle needs to crawl back into his shell.

    April 17, 2010 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
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