* Obama to meet heads of Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, others
* Obama annoyed at efforts to thwart regulatory reform
* White House sharpens rhetoric as public anger festers
By Caren Bohan
WASHINGTON, Dec 14 President Barack Obama may
have some tough words on Monday for executives of top U.S.
banks as he pushes them to step up small-business lending and
get behind legislation to overhaul Wall Street regulations.
Aides said that when Obama meets with the heads of firms
such as Goldman Sachs (GS.N), J.P. Morgan Chase & Co (JPM.N)
and Citigroup Inc (C.N), he will call on them to take
responsibility for helping the economy after benefiting from
taxpayer-funded bailouts of the financial sector.
Obama complained in an interview with the CBS program "60
Minutes" aired on Sunday about bonuses bankers are raking in.
"I did not run for office to be helping out a bunch of fat
cat bankers on Wall Street," Obama said.
After the meeting with the bankers, scheduled to start at
11:10 a.m. (1610 GMT), Obama will make a public statement about
the economy, the White House said.
"What's really frustrating me right now is that you've got
these same banks who benefited from taxpayer assistance who are
fighting tooth and nail with their lobbyists up on Capitol
Hill, fighting against financial regulatory control," Obama
Senior White House aide Lawrence Summers said Obama would
"have a serious talk with the bankers."
"The country did incredible things for the banking
industry," Summers, director of the National Economic Council,
told ABC's "This Week" program. "They need to recognize that
they've got obligations to the country after all that's been
done for them, and there is a lot more they can do."
While seeking cooperation from the banks on issues such as
credit availability for small businesses, the White House is
also likely to continue its harsh public rhetoric toward the
banks. Many Americans blame the banks for the economic crisis
that has left the nation with 10 percent unemployment.
Obama, whose public approval ratings are below 50 percent
and at the lowest levels of his presidency, is frustrated that
some of the public's anger at Wall Street firms is being
directed at his administration for its support of the $700
billion financial bailout program begun during the Bush
The Obama administration has said the rescue program was
needed to stem the worst financial crisis since the Great
Depression of the 1930s and head off a potentially greater
calamity in the broader economy.
Still, Obama and his aides have been annoyed by the Wall
Street firms' lobbying campaign aimed at thwarting sweeping
legislation to tighten oversight of financial firms. Backers of
the legislation say it is needed to prevent a repeat of the
In a victory for Obama, the U.S. House of Representatives
last week approved its version of the financial regulatory
reform legislation. Before the bill can become law, the
slower-moving Senate will need to approve its version, then
differences between the two bills will need to be ironed out.
An army of lobbyists for banks and Wall Street firms, whose
profits may be threatened, have fought for months to weaken and
delay reforms, criticizing what they call an unneeded and
costly intrusion on business.
White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Obama "wants to have
a productive meeting" with the bankers.
"He expects to discuss plans for how they are going to
increase lending to small businesses and improve lending
practices for homeowners," she said. "He will also speak firmly
about the efforts of lobbyists to kill the financial reform
efforts that are essential to the long-term health of our
(Editing by Will Dunham)