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Obama to Wall Street: free market not "free license to take whatever you can get" Excerpts

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WASHINGTON--President Obama pressures Wall Street Thursday on his financial reform package.

Obama is expected to say in his speech: "I believe in a strong financial sector that helps people to raise capital and get loans and invest their savings. But a free market was never meant to be a free license to take whatever you can get, however you can get it. That is what happened too often in the years leading up to the crisis. Some on Wall Street forgot that behind every dollar traded or leveraged, there is family looking to buy a house, pay for an education, open a business, or save for retirement. What happens here has real consequences across our country."

Below, from the White House....

EXCERPTS - Remarks of President Barack Obama

Wall Street Reform at Cooper Union

One of the most significant contributors to this recession was a financial crisis as dire as any we've known in generations. And that crisis was born of a failure of responsibility - from Wall Street to Washington - that brought down many of the world's largest financial firms and nearly dragged our economy into a second Great Depression.

It was that failure of responsibility that I spoke about when I came to New York more than two years ago - before the worst of the crisis had unfolded. I take no satisfaction in noting that my comments have largely been borne out by the events that followed. But I repeat what I said then because it is essential that we learn the lessons of this crisis, so we don't doom ourselves to repeat it. And make no mistake, that is exactly what will happen if we allow this moment to pass - an outcome that is unacceptable to me and to the American people.

As I said two years ago on this stage, I believe in the power of the free market. I believe in a strong financial sector that helps people to raise capital and get loans and invest their savings. But a free market was never meant to be a free license to take whatever you can get, however you can get it. That is what happened too often in the years leading up to the crisis. Some on Wall Street forgot that behind every dollar traded or leveraged, there is family looking to buy a house, pay for an education, open a business, or save for retirement. What happens here has real consequences across our country.

...

A comprehensive plan to achieve these reforms has passed the House of Representatives. A Senate version is currently being debated, drawing on the ideas of Democrats and Republicans. Both bills represent significant improvement on the flawed rules we have in place today, despite the furious efforts of industry lobbyists to shape them to their special interests. I am sure that many of those lobbyists work for some of you. But I am here today because I want to urge you to join us, instead of fighting us in this effort. I am here because I believe that these reforms are, in the end, not only in the best interest of our country, but in the best interest of our financial sector. And I am here to explain what reform will look like, and why it matters.

...

President Obama will also address the five key proposals he believes must be included in strong financial reform:

· A system to ensure that the financial system, the broader economy, and the American taxpayers are protected in the event that a large firm begins to fail

· The Volcker Rule, which sets limits on the size of banks and the risks that banking institutions can take

· Reforms that will bring new transparency to many financial markets, and bring derivatives and other complicated financial instruments out of the dark

· Strong consumer financial protections that will give American consumers more protection and power in our financial system, and

· Say on pay reforms that would give investors and pension holders a stronger role in determining who manages the companies in which they've placed their savings.

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on April 22, 2010 5:00 AM.

President Obama official schedule and guidance, April 22, 2010. Wall Street, Earth Day was the previous entry in this blog.

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