Weekly Address: President Obama – Wall Street Reform is Working

The President’s Weekly Address post is also an Open News Thread. Feel free to share other news stories in the comments.

From the White HouseWeekly Address

In this week’s address, the President spoke to the progress we have made in making our financial system stronger, safer, and more fair in the years since financial crisis. Five years ago this week our country enacted the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, rules that have substantially reduced recklessness and abuse in our financial system that predated the crisis. As a result of Wall Street reform, our banks are less reliant on unstable funding and less likely to engage in risky behavior, the independent Consumer Financial Protection Bureau works to protect American consumers, and our financial system is significantly better-regulated. Dodd-Frank is working, and the President emphasized that he will continue to fight any challenges to the law and veto any effort to unravel the new rules governing Wall Street.

Transcript: WEEKLY ADDRESS: Wall Street Reform is Working

Remarks of President Barack Obama
Weekly Address, The White House, July 25, 2015

Hi, everybody. It’s been seven years since the worst financial crisis in generations spread from Wall Street to Main Street – a crisis that cost millions of Americans their jobs, their homes, their life savings. It was a crisis that cost all of us. It was a reminder that we’re in this together – all of us.

That’s how we’ve battled back these past six and a half years – together. We still have work to do, but together, we prevented a second Great Depression. Our businesses have created nearly 13 million jobs over the past 64 months. The housing market is healthier. The stock market has more than doubled, restoring the retirement savings of millions. Americans of all stripes buckled down, rolled up their sleeves, and worked to bring this country back. And to protect your efforts, we had to do something more – we had to make sure this kind of crisis never happens again.

That’s why five years ago this week, we enacted the toughest Wall Street reform in history – new rules of the road to protect businesses, consumers, and our entire economy from the kind of irresponsibility that threatened all of us. Five years later, here’s what that reform has done.

Wall Street Reform turned the page on the era of “too big to fail.” Now, in America, we welcome the pursuit of profit. But if your business fails, we shouldn’t have to bail you out. And under the new rules, we won’t – the days of taxpayer-funded bailouts are over.

Wall Street Reform now allows us to crack down on some of the worst types of recklessness that brought our economy to its knees, from big banks making huge, risky bets using borrowed money, to paying executives in a way that rewarded irresponsible behavior.

Thanks to Wall Street Reform, there’s finally an independent Consumer Financial Protection Bureau with one mission: to protect American consumers. Already, they’ve gone after predatory or unscrupulous mortgage brokers, student lenders, credit card companies, and they’ve won –putting nearly $11 billion back in the pockets of more than 26 million consumers who’ve been cheated.

So this law is working. And we’re working to protect even more families. Just this week, we announced that we’re cracking down on the worst practices of payday lenders on military bases, so that our troops and their families don’t wind up trapped in a vicious cycle of debt. As long as I’m President, I’m going to keep doing whatever I can to protect consumers, and our entire economy from the kind of irresponsibility that led to the Great Recession in the first place.

None of this has been easy. We’ve had to overcome fierce lobbying campaigns from the special interests and their allies in Congress. In fact, they’re still trying everything to attack everything this reform accomplishes—from hiding rollbacks of key protections in unrelated bills, to blocking the financial cops on the beat from doing their job. And they continue to claim this Wall Street reform is somehow bad for business. But that doesn’t explain 13 million new jobs and a stock market near record highs. This law is only bad for business if your business model depends on recklessness that threatens our economy or irresponsibility that threatens working families. We can’t put the security of families at risk by returning to the days when big banks or bad actors were allowed to write their own rules. And if any bill comes to my desk that tries to unravel the new rules on Wall Street, I will veto it. We’ve worked too hard to recover from one crisis only to risk another.

In America, we should reward drive, innovation, and fair play. That’s what Wall Street reform does. It makes sure everybody plays by the same set of rules. And if we keep moving forward, not backward – if we keep building an economy that rewards responsibility instead of recklessness, then we won’t just keep coming back – we’ll come back stronger than ever.

Thanks, and have a great weekend.

Bolding added.




  1. President Obama: “This law is only bad for business if your business model depends on recklessness that threatens our economy or irresponsibility that threatens working families. ”

  2. This past week the president commemorated the 25th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

    As part of the events, he invited Americans with disabilities to the White House. In this video clip, part of something called West Wing Week that recaps the week of the president, he meets with a blind person and they communicate using teletype – and hugs.

    Slide the video start over to about 2:30 to see the exchange. And bring kleenexes!!

  3. In the News: Campaign Finance Reform

    Senate Democrats Want To Crack Down On Rampant Campaign-Super PAC Coordination

    Candidates and the PACs that support them are barred from coordinating with one another.

    It’s a vaguely written, increasingly unenforced part of campaign finance law, but candidates running for president are becoming more brazen about blurring the lines between their campaigns and “independent” advocacy groups that can raise and spend unlimited amounts of cash.

    Some Democratic members of the Senate are now attempting to crack down on this behavior. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) introduced a bill this week to “stamp out coordination between super PACs and political candidates” by making the definition of “coordination” stricter and barring candidates and their agents from raising money for their PACs.

    “The Stop Super PAC-Candidate Coordination Act would end the sham practice of presidential candidates boldly and shamelessly exploiting our campaign finance laws by coordinating with allegedly independent super PACs,” Leahy’s statement said, adding that voters in his home state pushed him to tackle the problem. “Vermonters … have always remained steadfast in our belief that our democracy should not be for sale, and that the size of your bank account should not determine whether or not the government responds to your views or needs.”

    From Senator Leahy’s press release:

    The bill, an identical version of which was introduced in the House earlier this year by Congressmen David Price (D-N.C.) and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), codifies a definition of coordination based on Supreme Court rulings and creates a new definition of “coordinated spender” to ensure that single-candidate Super PACs do not act as an arm of a candidate’s campaign. To prevent further skirting of coordination rules, the bill prohibits a group from using an internal firewall as the basis for avoiding the application of the coordination provisions. The bill also prohibits candidates and their agents from raising money for Super PACs. The bill is supported by a range of campaign finance reform and government sunshine groups.

    Leahy is also a co-sponsor of the DISCLOSE Act, a bill that would bring greater transparency to campaign spending by requiring groups to disclose the source of the money they raise. With Leahy as chairman last year, the Judiciary Committee approved a constitutional amendment in response to the Supreme Court’s decisions regarding campaign finance and money in politics. The amendment was blocked by Senate Republicans.

  4. In the News: Saving the sacred Oak Flat area in Arizona

    Citing Religious Freedom, Native Americans Fight To Take Back Sacred Land From Mining Companies

    For generations, members of the Apache Native American tribe have viewed Oak Flat as a holy, sacred place. Located about an hour due east of Phoenix, Arizona, the land has long served as a site for traditional acorn gatherings, burial services, and rite of passage ceremonies for young women. The flat is tucked inside Arizona’s Tonto National Forest, and has historically been protected by the federal government.

    “It’s our sacred land — it’s where we come to pray,” Carrie Sage Curley, an Apache woman, told ThinkProgress.

    But last year, the land quietly became something else: A proposed site for a massive copper mining project spearheaded by Resolution Copper, an organization run by two multinational corporations based in the United Kingdom and Australia.

    Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) has introduced a bill to repeal the authorization and preserve the sacred space. Some of the text of the bill:

    (1) Section 3003 of the Carl Levin and Howard P. “Buck” McKeon National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015 (Public Law 113–291) authorizes approximately 2422 acres of Forest Service land known as “Oak Flat” in the Tonto National Forest in Southeastern Arizona that is sacred to Indian tribes in the region, including the San Carlos Apache Tribe and the Yavapai-Apache Nation, to be transferred to a mining company called Resolution Copper. That company plans to hold the Forest land privately for a mining project that will result in the physical destruction of tribal sacred areas and deprive American Indians from practicing their religions, ceremonies, and other traditional practices. The mining project will also create significant negative environmental impacts by destroying the area and depleting and contaminating precious water resources.

    (2) Once Resolution Copper owns the Oak Flat area, it plans to use the highly destructive block cave mining method to remove one cubic mile of ore that is now 7,000 feet beneath the surface of the earth without replacing any of the earth removed because that is the cheapest form of mining. Resolution Copper admits that the surface will subside and ultimately collapse, destroying forever this place of worship.

    (3) The Tonto National Forest in which Oak Flat is located was established in 1905 from the ancestral homelands of the Tonto Apache and other American Indians who were forcibly removed at gunpoint from the Oak Flat area and other areas of the Tonto National Forest by the United States Army in the 1880s and imprisoned in other areas, including what is now the San Carlos Apache Reservation, located approximately 15 miles from Oak Flat, where Apaches were held as prisoners of war until the early 1900s.

    (4) Section 3003 was included in the Carl Levin and Howard P. “Buck” McKeon National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015 without proper legislative process and circumvented the will of the majority of Members of the House of Representatives. […]

    (6) The United States has a trust responsibility acknowledged by Congress to protect tribal sacred areas on Federal lands. These laws require meaningful consultations with affected Indian tribes before making decisions that will impact American Indians. In contradiction to these laws, section 3003 requires the mandatory conveyance of a tribal sacred area located on Federal lands regardless of the outcome of consultation with affected Indian tribes.

    There was a rally in Washington this past week:

    Apache protesters completed their cross-country journey from the San Carlos reservation in Arizona to Washington, D.C., with a Wednesday rally on the lawn of the Capitol building, protesting Congress’ sale of their sacred Oak Flat to foreign mining conglomerates.

    The area known as Oak Flat is part of Arizona’s Tonto National Forest, and the Apache have used it for generations in young women’s coming-of-age ceremonies. In 1955, President Dwight Eisenhower removed it from consideration for mining activities in recognition of its natural and cultural value. But in December 2014, during the final days of the previous Congress, Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) added a rider to the must-pass National Defense Authorization Act that opened the land to mining conglomerates Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton.

    That change led to this week’s protests in Washington. Wendsler Nosie Sr. and his granddaughter, 16-year-old Naelyn Pike, led the Apache Stronghold coalition with speeches, prayers and songs, vowing to save land that is holy to them. At a separate rally Tuesday, they were joined by over 200 supporters — many representing faith groups in solidarity with the Apache — as well as Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.), who introduced legislation in June that would once again protect the land from mining. The bill has received support from the Sierra Club, National Congress of American Indians and tribes throughout the country.

  5. In the News: Hillary Clinton proposes Wall Street reforms …

    How Hillary Clinton Wants To Get Companies To Invest In Workers Rather Than Shareholders

    Clinton will call for a greater disclosure of stock buybacks, or when companies buy their own shares to decrease the available pool and thus inflate the value of those that remain. The move serves to enrich the shareholders who already own shares and give a short-term boost to the company’s stock price. In previewing the speech to the Wall Street Journal, the campaign noted that some countries require stock buybacks to be disclosed daily, but in the U.S. they only have to report them every quarter. […]

    With all of this money going toward shareholders and boosting stock prices, there is very little left over to give workers raises or make other long-term investments. That’s part of why wages are growing at a just 2 percent annual rate even with a steadily falling unemployment rate. The bottom 60 percent of Americans have experienced a decade of stagnant or declining wages. […]

    Clinton will talk about other ways to curb the focus on short-term performance at the expense of long-term investments. She will propose a change to the way capital gains investments are taxed, which are currently subject to a much lower rate than regular income. Her plan would involve higher rates on short-term investments but lower rates for longer ones. She also laid out a profit-sharing proposal last week that would give companies a tax credit for sharing the money with employees.

    Secretary Clinton’s speech from July 24th on CSPAN.

    • Voxplainer on capital gains tax changes being proposed:

      As part of her plan to reduce the impact of short-term thinking on corporate America, Hillary Clinton is proposing a revamp of how investment income is taxed in America. Right now, the tax code distinguished between a short-term investment held for less than a year and a long-term investment held for longer than that. She wants to replace that with a different system, featuring a six-year sliding scale of rates to give genuinely long-term investors a leg up.

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