Obama pushes Wall Street reform with populism

WASHINGTON Sat May 15, 2010 6:05am EDT

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks about Wall Street reform during a visit to Quincy, Illinois, April 28, 2010. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks about Wall Street reform during a visit to Quincy, Illinois, April 28, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama on Saturday called for swift Senate action on a sweeping overhaul of Wall Street rules to "secure America's economic future" as a reform bill moves into the decisive stage next week.

With months to go before November's pivotal congressional elections, Obama pressed a populist theme of helping the "folks on Main Street" as he urged approval of tighter regulations to prevent a repeat of the 2008-2009 financial crisis.

Obama's Democrats and opposition Republicans are continuing to haggle over a slew of amendments, but the bill could come up for a vote in the U.S. Senate by the end of next week and is widely expected to pass.

"The reform bill being debated in the Senate will not solve every problem in our financial system -- no bill could," Obama said in his weekly radio and Internet address.

"But what this strong bill will do is important, and I urge the Senate to pass it as soon as possible, so we can secure America's economic future in the 21st century."

The political climate in Washington has turned in favor of the proposed legislation -- which would mark the broadest revamp of the U.S. financial system since the 1930s -- and against industry lobbyists trying to weaken any changes.

Republicans acknowledge a need for reform but are seeking to trim back some Democratic proposals they see as government overreach into the private sector.

Still, Republicans appear increasingly reluctant to run the political risk of blocking passage and being painted as aligned with Wall Street in an election year.

The stakes are also high for Obama. With U.S. unemployment just below 10 percent, Americans are anxious about the country's finances, nudging his approval ratings to around 50 percent and threatening Democratic losses in the mid-term elections.

Seeking to tap into public anger at Wall Street excesses blamed for the recent financial crisis, Obama insisted financial reform would "help stop predatory practices."

He said reform would bolster community banks that have operated by the rules by creating an "even playing field" with larger lenders and would help safeguard small businesses from ever again being victimized by Wall Street risk-taking.

"We'll make our financial system more transparent by bringing the kinds of complex, back room deals that helped trigger this crisis into the light of day. We'll prevent banks from taking on so much risk that they could collapse and threaten our whole economy," Obama said.

"Put simply, Wall Street reform will bring greater security to folks on Main Street," he said.

The U.S. House of Representatives approved a Wall Street reform bill in December. Whatever the Senate produces will have to be merged with the House bill before a final package can be sent to Obama to be signed into law, possibly by mid-year.

(Editing by Paul Simao)

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
Comments (37)
Obama is just jabber jawing as usual as he is helping congress with highly watered down rules with more loopholes than a broken fishing net. Rest assured, the huge investments Obama and congress have with banking institutions, and the ‘donations’ to their campaign funds, are safe and sound yesterday, today, an in the future.

Do not listen to what these people say, look at what they are actually doing and where they are investing and that will tell you a lot about the US government officials.

May 15, 2010 6:30am EDT  --  Report as abuse
tom100 wrote:
Class shows up…
The doctor had his TV on in his office when the news of the military base shootings at Ft. Hood, TX came on. The husband of one of his employees was stationed there.
He called her into his office and as he told her what had happened, she got a text message from her husband saying, “I am okay.” Her cell phone rang right after she read the message. It was an ER nurse.� I�m the one who just sent you a text, not your husband. I thought it would be comforting, but I was mistaken in doing so. I am sorry to tell you this, but your husband has been shot 4 times and he is in surgery.”

The soldier’s wife left Southern Clinic in Dothan, AL and drove all night to Ft.Hood. When she arrived, she found out her husband was out of surgery and would be OK.
She rushed to his room and found that he already had visitors there to comfort him.
He was just waking up and found his wife and the visitors by his side. The nurse took this picture:

What? No news crews and cameras? This is how people with class respond and pay respect to those in uniform.
I sent my cousin in Fayetteville, N.C. (Retired from Special Forces) that picture of Geo.W. visiting the wounded at Ft. Hood. I got this reply:

“What is even better is the fact George W. Bush heard about Fort Hood, got in his car without any escort, apparently they did not have time to react, and drove to Fort Hood. He was stopped at the gate and the guard could not believe who he had just stopped. Bush only asked for directions to the hospital, then drove on. The gate guard called ahead ‘The President is on Fort Hood and driving to the hospital.’

“The base went bananas looking for Obama. When they found it was Bush, they immediately offered escort. Bush simply told them no escort, just let him visit the wounded and the dependents of the dead.
He stayed at Fort Hood for over six hours, and was finally asked to leave by a message from the White House.”

“Obama flew in days later, held a “photo” session in a gym, and did not even go to the hospital.
All this I picked up from two soldiers here who happened to be at Fort Hood when it happened.”
This Bush/Obama/Ft.Hood story is something that should be sent to every voter in the US .. Those who wanted “change” certainly got it.

May 15, 2010 7:00am EDT  --  Report as abuse
Lilguitar wrote:
I am not an Obama supporter and am in fact a big fan of George Bush, however…the Ft Hood story is not true….just check Snopes. When will people understand that when you receive a FWD in your e-mail that you should probably verify it first. There is nothing more annoying or irresponsible than spreading false information.

May 15, 2010 7:34am EDT  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.