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. Jacq

    Well it seems the more the country is dug out of hole the republicans created the louder they cry!My taxes are lower I made $245.000 last year go dems,plus there's light in the economy

    April 17, 2010 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  2. Thanh

    47% of Americans don't have to pay income tax. Nearly everyone in the working world got a tax break with Making Work Pay. Only the elite saw their taxes rise.

    Most of the mudslingers on here are hardly elite. They can barely spell. They just go against anything Obama does or says. If he says that puppies are cute, there's going to be people who say puppies are devil spawn and need to be eradicated.

    The truth is that American people (ordinary citizens) broke this country. The government only adapts to the domestic situation. The abuse is all across the board, not just on Wall Street, but on Main Street as well. People abuse health care, and that sends costs out of control. People abuse financial "tools" and loopholes in tax and finance law. We have regulation to curb abuse. The problems we have today aren't new. They're the same ones we had for decades. We as a people love to take advantage of the benefits as they arise, but when bad things happen, only a few of us love to take the responsibility. I see this behavior on all scales of life, not just government. In a company, people love to blame, but responsibility is never properly owned.

    It's like people totally forgot Enron. Look at Goldman Sachs. These are private companies guilty of fraud. A small group of people were making money off of everyone else expense. When they got busted, it impacted the shareholder value. As a result the entire market suffered. The actions of few impacted the many. If the government doesn't step in to help the citizens, who will?

    On a side note. if you pay close attention, there are a lot of foreign nationals trolling these comment threads, inciting American people, and stirring up hate. They're very easy to pick out. The grammar and spelling are worse than of a third grader. This isn't net-speak or short hand. These are people who don't have a grasp of the English language, and I highly doubt illegal immigrants have the time to read and troll CNN all day. I also doubt that they champion the GOP cause.

    April 17, 2010 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  3. Whimsy1

    The provision in question does resemble a bailout BUT it makes Wall Street pay for the fund to bail itself out instead of taxpayers. It insures taxpayers will not have to bail out a very greedy, unfortunately de-regulated system. There are no self-regulating "birds" on Wall Street. They have become "fat cats" at our expense.

    April 17, 2010 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  4. liars

    Liars to the left - Liars to the right.

    Don't believe any of them.

    The minute they cross into Washington DC, they automatically become liars...or wait a minute....are only preordained liars allowed into Washington DC? Now this is getting really confusing.

    April 17, 2010 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  5. carole

    Keep calling them out, President Obama. They will keep obstructing
    just to make you look bad, but when their obstruction is based on
    provable lies (which much of the time it is) you need to make them accountable. At the root of this and the tea party movement is their
    arrogant stubbornly held belief that they alone have the right to govern
    this country. It is very sad for our country that the concept of "loyal
    opposition" has become more like "cynical, lying prevaricating demagogues". It is sad that the once proud Republican party now plays to the farthest right and most vocal among them. Witness the
    fall from respectfulness of one John McCain who so easily says he never though of himself as a "Maverick" although there are endless
    tapes of him saying just that.

    April 17, 2010 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  6. mjmrst

    ..."forcing big banks and credit card companies to provide clear, understandable information so that Americans can make financial decisions that work best for them."

    Just like the current tax forms and tax code: clear and understandable.
    The government would do well NOT to make laws that create problems ie: Community Reinvestment Act.

    April 17, 2010 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  7. Jason

    LMAO @ the Republicants.. NO NO NO.. When you will learn that NO isn't the answer Americans seek.. Its about time Obama comes out swinging.. How much longer will the Republicants, Teabaggers, et al continue to destroy America?

    Your stance has been Hate, Terror & War for the last 10 years.. When will the madness end Republicants.. No more taxes? LMAO @ that idea.. No more taxes & lower to zero taxes will bankrupt America.. Isn't that the game plan with you Republicants? To break the will of the American electorate and then rule with the iron fist of Christiandom & fear?

    Americans who want lower taxes are ANTI-American!!

    April 17, 2010 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  8. Larry Blom

    Just what is "the truth" in today's politics? I don't think it matters much any more to people like McConnell that the "facts" they cite in making a point are blatantly false-so long as that point is made. So one has to look at what motivates them; it certainly isn't a sense of intellectual honesty!

    April 17, 2010 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  9. If..

    If the President were white and Republican

    and doing the exact same things he's been doing.

    He'd be hailed in the GOP as the "Second coming of Ronald Reagan".

    April 17, 2010 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  10. Anonymous

    Your right Mr president Pants, it wouldn't lead to bailouts, because the government would just be able to take over what ever financial company it choose for an ungodly reason! No need for bailing out when you can just take it over!!! Ya'll democrats are saying nothing now. Just let a Conservative president get in power and THAT'S when you start talking about "Overreaching government"!

    April 17, 2010 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  11. REG in AZ

    Even the Republican philosophies that "government should only do for the people that which they can't do for themselves" and "the smallest government is the best government" have a flip side, an inherent responsibility that says government should be at least as big as needed and should do for the people that which they can't do for themselves; real financial reform falls completely in those categories. And further, if we could ever have political reform (get the money out of politics) all of the needed reforms would be moderate, effective and quickly achieved with responsible bipartisan cooperation. That is what the people should demand and do so by getting rid of all politicians who are against it, who obstruct it, without any regard for their party or political disguise (conservative/liberal).

    April 17, 2010 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  12. dan in capitola

    The GOP is using The Big Lie strategy here just as they did in healthcare: intentionally misstate the proposals and appeal to the emotions of the mob. It's not just cynical and dishonest, it is DISHONORABLE.

    April 17, 2010 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  13. Jack

    Let's see–regulations for business is bad. Like Enron and AIG and Goldman-Sachs. Hmm. What's good for business is good for America. Benn there. Done that. Doesn't work. Yes, busness should make a profit. A good profit but not by marking the deck or loading the dice against the middle class. We should never have "too big to fail" again.

    April 17, 2010 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  14. linda

    Thank you Mr. President – continue to expose the lies and
    deceptions of the GOP.

    Get your people out in force and let all Americans know the truth
    and good efforts you are making for all of us.

    The GOP is destroying America – they hate America. Perhaps
    they should go to another country and leave the great US

    April 17, 2010 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  15. All of america

    Enough of obama ,get him outa here! He's done enough damage to our country, and it's image.

    April 17, 2010 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  16. PeterS

    "America Is Angry...grassroots revolt, inflammatory media, crazed militias, capital at war. The country is tearing itself apart." That's what is stated on the front page of a current news magazine. And, after having read some of the comments posted here today, I can understand clearly how accurate that assessment is.

    April 17, 2010 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  17. German, Irish American

    So, this moron of a President we have wants another bill pushed through that he is to stupid to comprehend? 5 million jobs lost since his 850 billion jobs stimulus isn't enough harm to the economy for intellectual midget?

    April 17, 2010 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  18. Gene

    Saying that republicans are liars is stating the obvious. "Iraq has weapons of mass Destruction"; "Iraq was responsible for 9/11"; "You're doing a great job Brownie"; "The economy is strong"; "There were no terror attacks under the Bush administration"; and the list of lies goes on. Mitch McConnell is only carrying on the republican tradition–Tell the same lie long enough and people will eventually believe it.

    April 17, 2010 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  19. Ken in NC

    Mr. President put back the 150 million dollar fund that banks must contribute to so they can protect themselves AFTER one of them fails.

    Mr. President, keep calling out Senator McConnell on his constant lies along with any others that partake of his lies.

    By the way, has anybody herd from Senator McConnell's little "ORANGE MAN"?

    April 17, 2010 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  20. Emma

    McConnell has received millions from Lobbyists who advocate no regulation of the financial world. Mitch, you really should evaluate the merit of your values for the whole country and not just for you.

    April 17, 2010 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  21. Jim

    Today's GOP.....Making it stupid....Keeping it stupid.

    April 17, 2010 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  22. Recreator

    To: Willy Brown, Dopey Democrats, johnnyhouse, Roger Ridgeway, Willard Bullock, and others of your ilk, you wouldn't not the truth if it hit you it the face.

    The Republican Party has always been in the pocket of wall street. It should be no supprise that Mitch McConnell and his cohorts are once again saying no. They want things to continue in the same rotten ways.

    Wake up America!

    April 17, 2010 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  23. ahetch

    McConnell received his talking points and will use them over and over. There is no way that the GOP will ever agree to any suggestion from the democrats. That is a given.

    April 17, 2010 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  24. Al Mostonest

    Great discussion on Bill Moyers Journal with Simon Johnson and James Kwak, co-authors of "13 Banks" and the website Baselinescenario. It will help clarify this issue for those interested. Can we watched online.

    April 17, 2010 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  25. Bill in Austin

    The "Just Say No, Irregardless" Triumvirate of McConnell, Boehner, and Cantor strikes again. When was the last time they agreed with this President? As for the President, he has put the good of the country before the good of the party and the voters will reward them all. Too bad, the GOP can't play nice at least once in a while instead of looking like a bunch of grumpy old men?

    April 17, 2010 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
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