Obama On House Financial Reform & Banker Push-Back (video & transcript)

Below are key excerpts from the full transcript of Obama’s 12/12/09 response to the House reform bill. Also today, Obama hosted executives of the biggest financial firms at the White House and said big banks owed an “extraordinary commitment” to help rebuild a sustaining recovery after the government assistance they got. He also said that he’ll fight big bank lobbying against financial reforms: “If they are willing to fight common sense consumer protections, that’s a fight I’m willing to have.”

…The difficult steps we’ve taken since January have helped to break our fall, and begin to get us back on our feet. Our economy is growing again. The flood of job loss we saw at the beginning of this year slowed to a relative trickle last month. These are good signs for the future, but little comfort to all of our neighbors who remain out of a job. And my solemn commitment is to work every day, in every way I can, to push this recovery forward and build a new foundation for our lasting growth and prosperity.

…That’s why I announced some additional steps this week to spur private sector hiring. We’ll give an added boost to small businesses across our nation through additional tax cuts and access to lending they desperately need to grow. We’ll rebuild more of our vital infrastructure and promote advanced manufacturing in clean energy to put Americans to work doing the work we need done. And I have called for the extension of unemployment insurance and health benefits to help those who have lost their jobs weather these storms until we reach that brighter day.

…But much of [the crisis] was due to the irresponsibility of large financial institutions on Wall Street that gambled on risky loans and complex financial products, seeking short-term profits and big bonuses with little regard for long-term consequences. It was, as some have put it, risk management without the management. And their actions, in the absence of strong oversight, intensified the cycle of bubble-and-bust and led to a financial crisis that threatened to bring down the entire economy.

…And [new regulations] would consolidate the consumer protection functions currently spread across half a dozen agencies and vest them in a new Consumer Financial Protection Agency. This agency would have the authority to put an end to misleading and dishonest practices of banks and institutions that market financial products like credit and debit cards; mortgage, auto and payday loans.

…Yesterday, the House passed comprehensive reform legislation that incorporates some of the essential changes we need, and the Senate Banking Committee is working on its own package of reforms. I urge both houses to act as quickly as possible to pass real reform that restores free and fair markets in which recklessness and greed are thwarted; and hard work, responsibility, and competition are rewarded – reform that works for businesses, investors, and consumers alike.