July 16, 2010 / 7:11 PM / 7 years ago

Obama seeks gain from financial reform victory

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The White House on Friday sought political gain from its victory on financial regulation legislation and put election-year pressure on Republicans for opposing the overhaul.

President Barack Obama closed out the week with two positive accomplishments: He got long-sought new Wall Street rules approved and the Gulf of Mexico oil spill plugged, at least temporarily.

But he also faced criticism from the business community over whether Democratic legislation will put a stranglehold on job creation. He also heard complaints from Democratic allies over his spokesman's comment that they could lose control of the U.S. House of Representatives in November 2 elections.

White House senior adviser David Axelrod and economic adviser Diana Farrell told a conference call with reporters that consumers will gain from a broad overhaul of Wall Street regulations that passed the U.S. Congress on Thursday.

Obama is to sign the reform bill next week, less than two years after a Wall Street meltdown that propelled the country into the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.

"Wall Street reform was essential to prevent the kind of disaster that we've seen," Axelrod said. "This is a huge leap forward for consumers who will not be at the mercy of unscrupulous purveyors of credit cards."

Axelrod ridiculed House Republican leader John Boehner for saying the legislation should be repealed.

"To misread what's going on out there so dramatically is kind of stunning," Axelrod said. "Well, we're not going to go backward. We're going to go forward."

Boehner could become speaker if Republicans win a majority of seats in the House of Representatives in the November elections. All 435 House seats and 36 Senate seats are up for grabs and Americans upset about a 9.5 percent unemployment rate are in a mood for change.

The sales effort on the financial overhaul may be needed because many Americans are unsure what is in it.

An Ipsos Public Affairs Poll said this week 38 percent of Americans had never heard of the overhaul and 33 percent had heard of it but knew almost nothing about the legislation.

Republicans drew their own portrait of the legislation, saying it would put expensive new regulatory burdens not just on Wall Street, but on hundreds of thousands of non-financial services businesses.

"The White House may call this a victory," said Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell. "But as credit tightens, regulations multiply, and job creation slows even further as a result of this bill, they'll have a hard time convincing the American people that this is a victory for them."

Editing by Bill Trott

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