Obama on Wall Street: Financial Crisis a ‘Failure of Responsibility’


President Obama will take Wall Street to task today in a speech at Cooper Union downtown, and the White House released some highlights from the text in time to make the morning news. From the looks of it, Obama will go pretty hard after those in the financial industry who disregarded what he says is the human collateral behind their high-stakes gambles. "I believe in a strong financial sector that helps people to raise capital and get loans and invest their savings. But a free market was never meant to be a free license to take whatever you can get, however you can get it," he will say, according to the White House. "Some on Wall Street forgot that behind every dollar traded or leveraged, there is family looking to buy a house, pay for an education, open a business, or save for retirement. What happens here has real consequences across our country."

Obama will also give specifics regarding his requirements for a financial-regulation-reform bill if he is going to sign it. He wants, according to the Times, "consumer protections, limits on the size of banks and the risks they can take, reforms on executive compensation and greater transparency for controversial securities known as derivatives." And he's going to point fingers at those who are standing in his way:

"A comprehensive plan to achieve these reforms has passed the House of Representatives. A Senate version is currently being debated, drawing on the ideas of Democrats and Republicans. Both bills represent significant improvement on the flawed rules we have in place today, despite the furious efforts of industry lobbyists to shape them to their special interests. I am sure that many of those lobbyists work for some of you. But I am here today because I want to urge you to join us, instead of fighting us in this effort. I am here because I believe that these reforms are, in the end, not only in the best interest of our country, but in the best interest of our financial sector. And I am here to explain what reform will look like, and why it matters."

It's notable that while he calls out lobbyists and the Wall Street titans who are employing them, from the excerpts so far released, it looks like he won't be targeting Republicans, from whom he still hopes to extract support.

Mr. Responsibility [Politico44]