TORONTO (Reuters) - President Barack Obama, fresh from a win on a sweeping overhaul of Wall Street regulations, on Saturday urged Congress to take up his proposal for a $90 billion, 10-year tax on banks as the next step in reform.
Obama wants to slap a 0.15 percent tax on the liabilities of the biggest U.S. financial institutions to recoup the costs to taxpayers of the financial bailout.
“We need to impose a fee on the banks that were the biggest beneficiaries of taxpayer assistance at the height of our financial crisis -- so we can recover every dime of taxpayer money,” Obama said in his weekly radio and Internet address.
Obama, who is in Canada to attend gatherings with leaders of the world’s biggest economies, also used the address to welcome a deal by congressional negotiators on a historic rewriting of U.S. financial regulations.
Obama hopes to tout the changes as a model for other countries at the Group of 20 summit on Saturday and Sunday.
“I hope we can build on the progress we made at last year’s G20 summits by coordinating our global financial reform efforts to make sure a crisis like the one from which we are still recovering never happens again,” he said.
The financial regulation package would set up a new financial consumer watchdog, create a protocol for dismantling troubled financial firms and mandate higher bank capital standards, with the aim of avoiding a repeat of the 2007-2009 financial meltdown.
The bill, marking the biggest changes to the financial regulatory structure since the 1930s, still needs final approval from both chambers of Congress.
Obama, who hopes to sign the legislation by July 4, urged Congress to push the bill “over the finish line.”
With congressional elections looming in November, Obama hopes the financial reform and the bank tax idea will resonate with U.S. voters furious over Wall Street risk-taking that led to the financial meltdown and the worst recession in decades.
Some lawmakers have indicated they are receptive to the bank tax proposal but others have questioned whether it is fair to impose the tax on banks that have already repaid money from the Troubled Asset Relief Fund to make up for losses by American International Group Inc and General Motors.
Financial companies with more than $50 billion in assets and hedge funds with more than $10 billion in assets will be hit with the new levy upon enactment and lasting until 2020.
Writing by Caren Bohan, Editing by Mario Di Simine
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