WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama on Thursday promised a comprehensive plan to address the economy’s deepening woes as he chastised Wall Street executives for accepting big bonuses at time when the financial system was on the verge of collapse.
With job losses soaring and businesses pulling back, Obama said his plan to reignite growth would include not only the massive stimulus plan moving through Congress but also steps to unfreeze credit markets and overhaul financial regulations.
Obama told reporters he was outraged by a report of $18.4 billion paid out in Wall Street bonuses, as taxpayer money was being used to shore up the crumbling financial system.
“That is the height of irresponsibility. It is shameful,” Obama said while hosting a meeting in the Oval Office with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Vice President Joe Biden.
Obama said he and Geithner would send a message to Wall Street players that “there will be time for them to make profits and there will be time for them to get bonuses. Now is not that time.”
The Senate is ready to take up a roughly $900 billion stimulus package, after the House of Representatives passed a version of the measure. Obama has said the fiscal plan is essential to shoring up the economy.
But he said it was not the only step that would be needed.
He is considering a plan to fix the worsening crisis in the system in which firms have been unable to lend because of an overhang of bad mortgage debt.
The Obama administration is mulling a range of ideas, including the possibility of a “bad bank” run by the government that would buy up the toxic assets.
Obama, who has blamed the financial crisis on lax Wall Street regulation, has promised to revamp financial rules.
“We expect that even as the reinvestment and recovery package moves forward ... these other legs of the stool will be rolled out systematically in the coming weeks so that the American people will have a clear sense of a comprehensive strategy designed to put people back to work, reopen businesses, get credit flowing again,” Obama said.
Editing by Eric Walsh