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. Eddie B.

    McConnell is a liar and he is playing on the ignorance of his followers. This reform prevents the need for bailouts ever again and he turns around and says that it gives these financial institutions a permanent bailout. This is a flat out lie and he knows it. He met with these institutions to ensure them that this reform will not pass.

    April 17, 2010 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  2. Ricky

    You hit the nail on the head Mr. President.
    I can't believe there are so many that still believe the lies and deceptions of the GOP along with the adds there special interest buddies run on television non stop.

    April 17, 2010 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  3. Liberal Guy

    I find everything about the Senate Minority leader disturbing.

    I often find myself closely studying the faces of the Republican leadership–especially during news conferences and Presidential addresses. I sometimes turn off the sound. What I see (and what any observant person should be able to see) is most disturbing and can't be covered up by the strange and overly manicured "Republican haircuts" American political, social, and religious conservatives seem to favor.

    Expensive suits and ties, flags, and haircuts are no substitutes for patriotism, Republicans.

    No matter how much she washes her hands, Lady Macbeth’s soul is still soiled.

    April 17, 2010 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  4. mm

    We had been in a smoke and mirror government with the Republicans and they are still trying the same old, same old.
    Before our country can gain respect around the world for the damage that has been done, we must show everyone that the game days are over.


    April 17, 2010 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  5. gandoman

    Do we need FINANCIAL REFORM???
    Good Question and I believe I can solve the MAIN PROBLEM.
    The republican Nazi party of the RICH is the MAIN PROBLEM.
    My ANALOGY is to make some comparisons;
    A republican congressman's wife/Tea Party Advocates ...
    They both want all his time and money.
    A republican congressman's fellow congressmen/mistress ...
    They both want to screw everyone on the left.
    A republican congressman's Democratic supporters/hooker ...
    They both will sell themselves for money, promises & gifts.
    To sum it all up ... republican congressmen are in bed with the Wall Street Bankers and they do NOT care who is screwing whom!
    I believe I nailed it-right wing Jesus fanatics; porked it-congressional greed & favoritism; got off-politics as usual; did the wild thing-Palin in bed with Rush Limburgerbutt, went all the way-tea party partiers;
    and when elections arrive in November & all President Obama's hard work shows results, the republican Nazi party will be voted so far down it will take them 10 years to begin a recovery, except of course for those 25% low IQ Americans who still believe that George '3 below plant life' was a fine President.

    April 17, 2010 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |

    Wow all the Obama haters on here keep complaining but notice the lack of:




    any worthwhile contribution.

    Just vague attacks and name calling.

    Substance, people!

    April 17, 2010 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  7. normajean

    We citizens can say whatever we like but one thing is for sure. No president can effectively govern when his every word is twisted and lied about from the very start of everything he does. The republicans, led by Mitch McConnell have been on his every word since he was elected. The many issues that need to be taken care of from unemployment, home loss, banks failing,wars,health care, have all come at once and THE TROUBLEMAKERS say the president isn't doing enough because he hasn't taken care of their choice of projects.For someone who has been battered from the Repubs to the "Tea Partiers" plus the public, this man has been able to get things moving despite the destructive attitudes of just about everyone.Imagine what he could do with more constructive help.GIVE HIM A BREAK.

    April 17, 2010 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  8. Cynthia

    People, ur such imbeciles to incessently blame Obama for a debt incurred by BUSH. Hang Bush, not Obama. If you cant unclench your teeth and fists and only know hate, man, I feel sorry you cant see clearly. This is sad. Im an american indian and Im tired of paying taxes, but we have to do it. Its ironic Obama is under fire since he is changing some foreign policy....hmmmmm! Moreoever, wanna know where all the money is spent? Look on FB and see your sons and daughters partying in the middle east. Like DOGS you love blood so much that you turn on your own when you dont get enough. Sad and sickly.

    April 17, 2010 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  9. once upon a horse

    @ Chad from Tampa....

    Just WHAT taxes has Obama put on you that weren't there when Bush was president? My taxes have NOT gone up.....even the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy are still in place so I just don't get what you folks and teabaggers are complaining about rising taxes. In fact my taxes went down so perhaps you folks might want to give that tax break back since it seems not to be working for you.

    April 17, 2010 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  10. Sue

    Do your job CNN!!!

    Why don't you report that the reason that the Republicans are opposing this legislation........is because it includes a loophole which will allow billions of dollars to be given as another bail out.

    Do your JOB!!!

    April 17, 2010 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  11. Manhandler

    Where's the Republican plan? Where was the Republican plan on health care reform? Here's the Republican plan...."make sure all the greedy shisters are able to continue robbing the American people." Notice how all the posters who are defending the Greedy Old Party come off as having a second grade education? Rampant ignorance is the only thing that keeps the Republican party alive.

    April 17, 2010 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  12. KK

    For all you skeptics that think the President is and idiot and the Republicans are telling the truth, read the book 13 BANKERS.

    April 17, 2010 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  13. Rebeckah

    What is wrong with people today? It's sad that some of the people commenting seem to think it's okay to give a CEO's on Wall Street 10 million dollars while paying the people who actually WORK 20 dollars an hour? I know, let's just say screw it all no government let chaos reign, and return to the good ole days of the wild wild west. Then when enough American people are starving those of you who oppose everything better be smart enough to realize that the rich 5% can't hold back the the poor and starving 95%.

    April 17, 2010 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  14. jerry

    reading the comments is lke a peek at america in general these days. most of the comments have very little to do with the specifics of the issue.

    April 17, 2010 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  15. Say What?

    phoenix86 April 17th, 2010 10:45 am ET

    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.
    What the heck – how did "this" administration do that again?
    By the way, that old republican talking point, "obamacare", is outdated and overused! President Obama and his family will have "healthcare" for the rest of their lives. Unlike me (and probably you), if I lose my job I lose my healthcare and cannot afford to purchase it from an insurance company because I have a pre-existing condition!

    April 17, 2010 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  16. Rod

    Why don't we just prosecute 5,000 or so of the folks who got us into the mess. There are plenty of laws already on the books to put a number of the Wall Street Fat Cats behind bars from 18 months to 20 years, but both parties seem to be unwilling to press the Justice Department and State Attornies General to actually prosceute.
    Put 5,000 of these folks on trial – who cares if they are all convicted – it would be the best "prevention" scheme we could have. All the talk of new rules and protections, all the hearings are just political posturing. Both parties want to look good to Main Street but keep their Fat Cat big political donators on Wall Street and out of the courtroom. Put away a few thousand behind bars , take their homes, pull their kids out of private schools, make them sell their ski lodges and country club memberships and Wall Street will think twice before raping America again....

    April 17, 2010 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  17. scott

    McConnel is reminiscent of the Third Reich. The bigger the lie the easier to believe. The right wing audience may be easily duped but many good people are not.

    April 17, 2010 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  18. Tony

    Well, what do you think Boehner's and McConnell's marathon meetings with the big banks a few weeks ago were all about? 30 billion dollars per year worth of monopolized derivatives dealings is on the line here, people. The big banks are not, I repeat, NOT going to give that up without a big fight. They have their man to do the job too, McConnell and his cronies. Good luck, Mr. President. I would fear them more than any Tea Party wacko out there if I were you.

    April 17, 2010 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  19. terry,va.

    Obummie the liar in chief knows the senate dumbocraps have proposed a 50 billion dollar fund to finance the liquidation of a big financial institution facing collapse. McConnell has called Obummie and the dumbocraps out on this. Anytime Obummie says anything it is at best a half truth. Ie: no federal funds for abortion in the health care bill. His own party had to twist his arm to get a meaningless executive order signed to "amend" the law; which it doesn't. Financial reform under Obummie will end up much different than his message to the American people because of his half truths and smoke and mirriors.

    April 17, 2010 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  20. The Halls

    "Don't worry Barry. Th erepublicans will be back in charge in November and they will teach you on how to be a pResident."
    Williy Brown
    How come Bush did not know how to be a President? You do remember that President Bush was in office 2 term? You sound like a nut cake Williy Brown.

    April 17, 2010 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  21. Kiros mn

    While at it Republicans should erase any mine safety regulations that in place to protects mining workers life. Why pick and choose, abolish the nation security establishments so terrorists can fly freely in our countries air space.

    April 17, 2010 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  22. ab123

    lol you want to know what the GOP has for us and alternative, what the hell is that , that tells me nothing , and alternative? they are vague because they have nothing but the old GOP way of doing things.
    thats what got us in this mess in the first place. lol and alternative come on cantor give up . your party lost forever. oh and whats with the supreme court now they are against that too, guess we should just put every GOP senator down as a no vote and move on. because i havent heard them say yes once in this man's term not once. honestly just put them down for no and move on

    April 17, 2010 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  23. madcorbin

    CNN, you really, really need to stop using the word "slam". Thesaurus.com is free to use.

    April 17, 2010 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  24. juge

    How hurtful, bigoted and stupid can people be? Well you just have to read some of these comments against common sense and you will realize that the answer to that question is; VERY!

    April 17, 2010 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  25. Robert

    I look forward to next year – as the year passes and people cannot get the Healthcare promised or the treatments needed, taxes will rise, economy will stay stagnet, the deficit will grow by more than 1.9 trillion dollars, and of course, job creation will be minimal. Then the koolaide will dry up and – will the real Mr. President please stand up! Anyone supporting this Administrations blatant disregard of our Constitution needs to really sit down and ask themselves – why?

    April 17, 2010 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
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