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. Rich


    April 17, 2010 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  2. hobart

    When did the Party of No become such heartless bastards?

    They so worship laissez faire capitalism, that it's this divine self-correcting force that can never be improved on much less tweaked in helpful ways, that they are blind to the pain and suffering of millions of Americans who lost their jobs, houses, life savings and health insurance.

    To Mitch and his fellow Republicans, all of us who lost our jobs, live savings, homes and health insurance due to Republican economic policies during the Bush administration, we're just collateral damage. If we complain, we're accused of being liberals, because if we were conservative, we'd all fall for their us/them, good/evil rhetoric, they're loathsomely dishonest accusations of communism and socialism (which aren't synonyms, by the way), and their exhortation to carry machine guns to political rallies and commit acts of violence and treason.

    They also think we're too stupid to realize that the economy is recovering, in spite of their best efforts to prevent it. The market indices have recovered 40-50% over the last year, and are higher now than they were before the 2008 presidential election.

    Hey KY, it's time to Ditch Mitch.

    Why do Republicans hate America?

    April 17, 2010 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  3. Scott

    I'm a bit more cynical about Obama's position on regulation. I think this is a purely political move- the Republicans will come out against this again, and this will give the Democrats momentum coming into the mid-terms.

    April 17, 2010 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  4. edmundburkeson

    If Obama's plan is anything like mortgage loan reform and healthcare reform we can count on two things. The federal government will force Wall Street to take on risky business ventures with consumers and it wll guarantee that somewhere down the road the federal government will blame Wall Street for following the measures of the reform and call for a bailout of industry that's too big to fail and look for more ways to regulate or takeover the financials industry. Keep your hands off of Wall Street O Bama!!!!! the best way to avoid a bailout is to throw out Obama and never elect Bush to office again.

    April 17, 2010 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  5. John

    Funny he doesn't mention the 50 billion dollar bail-out fund they were proposing in the Bill, and that Obama himself has since asked Dodd to drop it...
    Too much rhetoric from both sides on this. I'd still like to see some measures to bust up those corporations "too big to fail" myself, or some day we will all be right back here regardless what Congress does. The precedents have been set, and as long as those huge monsters exist, the threat will still be there.

    April 17, 2010 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  6. FactCheck

    Obama you have cintinually deceived and disgraced our great country

    And you are such a bastion of honor, with your white hood and robe.

    April 17, 2010 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  7. Enough already...

    There is too much use of the word "Reform" What congress needs to do pass laws under which finacial institutions may function. The might grow too big to fail but not too big to be above the Law...!!

    April 17, 2010 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  8. Randall in Torrance, CA

    Obama is in charge and there is nothing the GOP can do about it. America is better off by light years compared to when Jarge Bushy was not in charge but pretended to be. Ah ha! The Democrats are in charge. Health care reform law passed! The middle-class is rising to overthrow the rich pricks of Walled-Off-From-Government-Regulation Street. Yes we have hope and we have turned hope into sight. We have kicked the teeth out of the GOP and now they are toothless junkies just like the Tea Pissers and their dawgs. Obama is the dog catcher and the Republicans are hiding in the sewers afraid they will get caught and be euthanized. Put these dogs down. They have bitten the middle-class for decades. They have rabies. They are going to be rounded up and buried alive in a ditch and then pissed on by the middle-class. Then we will throw a party celebrating their death. There will be dancing in the streets like never before in America! YES WE CAN, WE ALREADY DID!

    April 17, 2010 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  9. Hwy91

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

    Sooo.... why did you read this article? Are you a member of the "fawning media" or are you a commie?

    This President has proven, from the get-go, that he is neither communist nor an idiot. You must be thinking of that OTHER guy who took up space in the White House for 8 grueling years...

    April 17, 2010 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  10. anita

    No matter who funds thid proposed "backstop" of $50 billion dollars or more, the consequence will be inevitable.

    Where there is the possibility of a bailout for "too big to fail", there are those companies pushing risky strategies with the idea they can share the failure... BUT not the profits.

    This bill does NOT prevent that

    April 17, 2010 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  11. sickoftea

    Mitch McConnell and John Cornyn have no intention of ever doing anything that will benefit the struggling middle and lower class of this country or anything to benefit the country as a whole. It’s clear their loyalties lie only with Wall Street, corporations and special interest groups. Here’s hoping these two liars and frauds join the growing list of those not seeking reelection.

    April 17, 2010 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  12. melissanyc

    Mr. President you have my support on this reform.

    April 17, 2010 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  13. JGW(

    Obama is working on a first and a last...first US President to utterly destroy our economy, and the last democrat president for decades to come. Can't wait for November...

    April 17, 2010 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  14. Doug

    President Obama, the Tea Party movement is real. 50 million won't save your party, your party is about to be over. You have done enough damage to the country already.

    Oh by the way, your statement "like it or not, we are a military superpower" did not slip past, it will haunt you.

    You are the Commander in Chief of the greatest military in the world, and yet your liberal detest for the military shines through.

    You will be a one term President.

    April 17, 2010 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  15. ZipinSC

    I'm beginning to wonder if Fox doesn't have someone just for the purpose of making stupid comments on all these CNN blogs just to take up room. Not one of their comments shows a shred of logic or fact. It's all anti-Obama and more lies and or stupidity.

    April 17, 2010 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  16. Eva from Tampa

    Keep the pressure on Mr.President! The largest financial failure was on the Repblican's watch. Where were they in 2002 as they pushed through those tax cuts for the wealthy that woud stimulate the economy?That theory really held up !! CBO report stated this would add to the deficit and not yield the intended consequences-and they were right. That compounded with wars in two theatres, no oversight and overall greed led to the collapse. President Obama has a mess to fix...and his economic policies are starting to work. President Truman was correct when he said the Republican party is a do nothing party!

    April 17, 2010 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  17. carlos

    to those of you with your most repulsive and ignorant comments, first, get informed, second rid the hatred from your evil body and third, get a life.......you show you are the lowest form of life

    April 17, 2010 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  18. mike l

    Why would anyone with any intgelligence believe the gop is the party that cares about America. Over the last century, the republicans -the law and order party- have been theleaders in this country's political scandals. Let's start with the Tea Pot Dome scandal (since repubs like tea lately). Under the Hoover-Coolidge adminstration, millionaire members of the cabinet stole from the US Navy oil reserves and sold that oil for their own profit. Then came the McCarthy-HUAC hearings wherein ordinary Americans were derived of their right of free speech and assembly and had to prove they were not communists (even though there is no law that says they can't belong to the communist party or any other party). Then came the granddaddy-Watergate-where Nixon and his allies created all kinds of illegal dirty trick and break-in groups in order to insure his re-election and the perpetual gop presidency. They collected millions in illegal slush funds and the law and order president lied to cover up the scandal. Next, there was Iran-Contra when St. Ronnie let ollie north run the government and make illegal deals with the Iranians (who had just recently releases 44 American is had held hostage for over a year, even keeping them longer at Reagan's request so he'd look good when they got released during his inauguration) and used the money to supply arms to the Contras, who wanted to overthrow the legitimately elected gov of Nicaraugua. North and poindexter were convicted, but had those convictions overturned by an activist judge (a liberal, no doubt). Reaga, under oath, could never recall if he gave north or others the go-ahead, or he forgot, under oath, Finally, we got the phony WMDs of the bushies, which got 4,000 American troops killed for a lie, but cheney's Haliburtion friends made billions off those troops with no-bid contracts. And the current recession wherein the gop failed to keep an eye on Wall St. Meanwhile, Bill Clinton had oral sex from an adult intern. Oh, the horror! Now, tell me which party is looking out for the American people?

    April 17, 2010 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  19. Joyce

    Anyone with any common sense at all knows you can't believe a word that comes from a Republican leader.

    April 17, 2010 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  20. Dan A

    Don't waste your breath on Mitch McConnell Obama–he is way too stupid to even bother with him !! That goes for all the dumb morons who voted for him also ! None of them are worth your valuable time !
    Never mind these half brain people who oppose you on this web site because they have nothing to add that is worth listening to !!

    April 17, 2010 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  21. lipton

    We confused – our admirable/rightful promotion of the market – with our shameful/wrongful negligence of protections – from allowing the market to become a casino house for the financial industry (including mortgage, credit card and healthcare insurance) – leading to a house of cards for the overall economy.

    The economic shock/overhang/legacy we are experiencing is primarily due to the debilitating depths we got dragged to by the sudden liquidity and credit crunch emanating from growing fiduciary negligence and exploitation by our beloved, all-knowing, selfless, conflict-free, unfettered, self-regulating (de facto) judge/jury/&executors of our financial industry. For the worthy cause of a healthy market financial industry, we allowed a pervasive, ‘blindly trust but don’t verify,’ attitude/mindset/practice tempt and seduce our most pretentious masterminds comprising our financial industry club to run roughshod with other peoples (our) money for the purpose of wildly contriving self-absorbing real and imaginary (eg think Bernie Madoff, Goldman Sachs, AIG, Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers, Enron, … styled fleecing) proceeds, fees, commissions, bonuses, and advances at the mercy of our economy.

    Then, capped off with a bailout extorted by and for the very club of people who cutted off the economy at the knees.

    Forget about the outrage. Where are our sustainable incentive policies, checks and balances, overseers, control valves, and enforcers?

    April 17, 2010 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  22. Desmond in Canada

    "Cynical" and "Deceptive" would aptly describe these pathetic Repubs if preceded by the words "beyond the pale" and "perversely". These people clearly appear to be inciting violence while feigning care for people.

    April 17, 2010 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  23. carlos

    the gop leaders are so ignorant that they have to ditto ALL the talking points given to them by the repulsive Frank Luntz........and they repeat them even if they do not believe what they are saying......GOPLuntzers

    April 17, 2010 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  24. guest

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

    - Seriously... You have no idea what you are talking about! -

    April 17, 2010 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  25. Peggy Lucas

    It's about time President Obama takes on Mitch McConnell. How stupid does McConnell think the American people are? We all know that McConnell and Company are in bed with Wall Street and the Banks. If this bill passes, there goes McConnell's and others bank roll. Go President Obama!

    April 17, 2010 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
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