News / USA

Obama to Use New York Speech to Press for Financial Reform

In a speech in New York City on Thursday, President Barack Obama will again press his case for the U.S. Congress to approve a sweeping financial system reform bill.  The president's return to The Cooper Union college in New York to deliver an urgent message about the need to strengthen financial rules comes as the U.S. Senate prepares for what could be a difficult debate on the legislation.

This will be the fourth address Barack Obama has delivered in New York City, the home of Wall Street, since 2007 when as a candidate for the White House he called for greater accountability, intensified financial oversight, and other steps.

This time, nearing the second anniversary of the U.S. financial crisis, the stakes are higher, with the president and Democrats controlling Congress on the verge of possibly winning approval of the most significant reforms since steps taken following the Great Depression of the 1930s.

Last year, speaking in New York on the first anniversary of the financial crisis, as the U.S. House of Representatives moved toward passing its own version of financial reform, the president delivered this message at New York City's Federal Hall:

"Those on Wall Street cannot resume taking risks without regard to consequences and expect that next time American taxpayers will be there to break their fall," said President Obama.

Leading up to Thursday's speech, President Obama and administration officials, notably Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, have stressed what they call the critical nature of the decisions facing Congress.

"This is going to be the most sweeping set of reforms we have contemplated as a country since those put in place after the Great Depression," said Timothy Geithner. "We let a system designed for a different era fall way behind the curve of risk and innovation in those markets, we never should have let that happen."

The reform bill in the Senate would impose new controls on banks and other institutions aimed at greater transparency and protecting consumers, along with steps to ensure that failures of large institutions do not bring the economy down again.

Referring to what he called clear choices facing Congress and Americans, Vice President Joe Biden referred to an overriding imperative of reform.

"The need to restore trust and credibility in America's financial markets," said Vice President Biden. "Too many market participants themselves, through short-sighted reed have squandered that credibility and I would argue to their own detriment long-term.  Wall Street reform must put a stop to this."

Minority Republicans, who the president has been courting to support the legislation, have asserted that it would amount to authorizing ongoing government bailouts for banks.

On the eve of the president's latest address in New York, administration officials and Democratic congressional leaders voiced hope that Republicans will come on board, as both sides continued negotiations.

Key Senate Republicans voiced optimism on Wednesday that differences could be resolved so a final bill can be called bipartisan.  Senator Richard Shelby responded to criticisms that Republicans, in pushing for changes on key provisions, have somehow been on the wrong side of the financial reform debate:

"I don't think we have ever been on the wrong side of the fence in trying to get a substantive bill that affects the whole economy of the United States of America and the future of job creation," said Senator Shelby.

Senate Banking Committee chairman Democrat Christopher Dodd described what he called the big picture people all involved should keep in mind:

"Whose side are you on?  What more do you need to know?  What has occurred as a result of the near melt-down of the financial system in this country, eight and a half millions jobs, seven million homes, retirement, small business, credit has seized up in the country, we came to the brink of a financial collapse," said Senator Dodd. "What more do you need to know?"

As the Senate prepares to debate financial reform, the administration also criticized what Vice President Biden referred to this week as powerful political lobbying and cynical tactics by opponents of reform.

Wall Street lobbying was the focus of remarks by Vermont Independent Senator Bernie Sanders who urged his colleagues to stand up for the needs of ordinary Americans against big money interests.

"The issue that we are debating now is not whether Congress will regulate Wall Street, it is whether or not Congress will continue to be regulated by Wall Street," said Senator Sanders.

The president's speech also takes place against the background of the Securities and Exchange Commission lawsuit against Wall Street firm Goldman Sachs, which the government alleges defrauded investors by selling risky mortgage instruments without informing buyers they were assessed as likely to fail.

Anger in Congress over this issue is intense among Democrats and Republicans.  Republican Congressman Cliff Stearns believes Goldman Sachs, which received billions in financial system bailout funds, should offer Americans reparations, and the government should do all it can to probe other instances of alleged wrongdoing.

"The SEC also has a duty to American taxpayers to get to the bottom of this and continue to investigate any abusive practice employed by all financial institutions, not just Goldman Sachs," said Cliff Stearns.

President Obama and administration officials have strongly denied suggestions the White House knew in advance of the SEC lawsuit against Goldman Sachs.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs dismissed suggestions that the administration would be concerned that the focus on Goldman Sachs, a key contributor to Democrats as well as Republicans, could carry a price of reduced political contributions in the future.

On the eve of his Thursday address at The Cooper Union college, just a short distance from Wall Street, the president reiterated in a CNBC television interview, that he has been calling for financial reform for years.   

You May Like

Nearly Every Job in America Mapped in Detail

A nifty map pinpoints practically every job in the United States, revealing the economic character of America’s metropolitan areas, which also helps to inform the local culture

Corruption Busting Is Her Game

South African activist is building 'international online community of thousands of corruption fighters'

Former SAF Businessman Gives Books, Love of Reading to Students

Steve Tsakaris now involved in nonprofit Read to Rise, which distributes books in Soweto, encourages lower-grade primary school students to read

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continuesi
Ayesha Tanzeem
November 25, 2015 10:46 PM
One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs