News / USA

Obama: Wall Street Overhaul Will Pass



President Barack Obama on Tuesday said he has enough votes in the U.S. Senate to pass financial reform legislation.  The president said several opposition Republicans and conservative Democrats have agreed to support the bill.

President Obama said Senate Democrats now have the 60 votes they need to force big U.S. financial firms to change the way they do business.

"Three Republican senators have put politics and partisanship aside to support this reform," he said. "And I am grateful for their decision as well as all the Democrats who have worked so hard to make this reform a reality."

Mr. Obama said the legislation will prevent another financial crisis by strengthening Wall Street regulations.  Weak regulations have been blamed for the 2008 financial crisis that led to the current global economic recession.

Republican Senators Olympia Snowe, Susan Collins and Scott Brown announced their support for the bill, as did conservative Democrat Ben Nelson, who earlier had expressed concerns about it.

At the White House, President Obama also introduced reporters to his nominee for budget director, Jacob Lew.

The Deputy Secretary of State had been budget director under former President Bill Clinton. "If there was a hall of fame for budget directors, then Jack Lew surely would have earned a place for his service in that role under President Clinton, when he helped balance the federal budget after years of deficits," said the president.

If he is confirmed by the Senate to the Cabinet-level post, Lew would inherit a deficit of more than $1 trillion for the first three-quarters of this fiscal year, with more deficits to come.

Mr. Obama said shrinking that shortfall would be the top priority for his new budget director. "Jack's challenge over the next few years is to use his extraordinary skill and experience to cut down that deficit and put our nation back on a fiscally responsible path.  And I have the utmost faith in his ability to achieve this goal as a central member of our economic team," he said.

Lew would replace Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orszag, who is stepping down this month.

The president made the announcements as a new opinion poll shows public confidence in him has sunk to a new low.  The survey, conducted by The Washington Post newspaper and ABC News, shows that almost 60 percent of U.S. voters say they lack faith in Mr. Obama's ability to lead the nation.  It also says that only 43 percent of voters approve of the president's handling of the nation's economy.

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