President Barack Obama prodded Congress on Saturday to send him financial overhaul legislation, saying the landmark compromise lawmakers have crafted would be a boon to consumers and help deflect the next global financial crisis.
"We're still digging ourselves out of an economic crisis that happened largely because there wasn't strong enough oversight on Wall Street," Obama said in his weekly radio and online address. "We can't build a strong economy in America over the long-run without ending this status quo, and laying a new foundation for growth and prosperity."
He also pressed legislators to send him another proposal they omitted from the compromise financial package — a tax on big banks supporters say would recoup some of the billions taxpayers spent to bail out the ailing institutions.
House-Senate negotiators approved the overall deal Friday, and Democratic leaders hope to muscle it through Congress next week. The bill creates an independent agency to monitor mortgages and other consumer financial products, restricts trading in complicated derivatives that helped ignite the financial meltdown and forces failing giant firms to liquidate, making it the widest reaching revamp of the nation's financial rules since the Great Depression.
"We now stand on the verge of victory," the president said.
Republicans say the measure ignores Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the mortgage giants who have received huge federal bailouts and whose bad loans helped trigger the housing and economic meltdowns.
In their weekly address, they argued that Obama must focus on "creating more jobs, not more debt," by embracing GOP efforts to cancel unspent Wall Street bailout funds and stimulus money and to help small businesses.
"Instead of growing government, we need to restart the engine of economic growth," said Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis.
Obama's address came with the president in Toronto, Canada, for a weekend economic meeting of world leaders. Their session is aimed at finding ways countries can coordinate their policies to help avoid a future economic collapse.
The financial measure is nearing enactment at a time when polls show widespread public anger at bankers and Wall Street, who are widely blamed for irresponsible practices that helped cause the recession.
"Getting this far on Wall Street reform hasn't been easy," Obama said, playing on that populist theme. "There are those who've fought tooth and nail to preserve the status quo. In recent months, they've spent millions of dollars and hired an army of lobbyists to stop reform dead in its tracks."
Obama address: http://www.whitehouse.gov
GOP address: http://www.youtube.com/republicanconference
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