Obama issues financial regulation plan
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Kai Ryssdal: President Obama’s plans to overhaul this country’s financial markets runs 101 pages. It’s neatly packaged with a green cover and the Treasury Department’s logo on the front. And as he announced its contents this morning the president didn’t leave any doubt as to where he thinks the blame for this financial lies, and why he thinks some new rules are in order.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: It is an indisputable fact that one of the most significant contributors to our economic downturn was an unraveling of major financial institutions and a lack of regulatory structures to prevent abuse and excess.
Obviously there’s a lot in those 101 pages for us to talk about today. Our Washington bureau chief John Dimsdale starts things off with the high points.
JOHN DIMSDALE: There are three parts to the White House proposals. The Federal Reserve Board would get new authority to keep tabs on financial companies that get so big, their failure would endanger the entire system. The president would also create a new agency to shield investors from exotic and risky financial products. And he would restructure regulatory agencies to prevent banks from shopping around for the easiest overseer.
But the president’s proposals leave much of the existing regulatory structure in place. His plan eliminates the weakest cop on the beat, the Office of Thrift Supervision. But the rest of the overlapping alphabet soup of agencies would survive. At the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, David Hirschmann says the proposals don’t address the real shortcomings of government oversight.
DAVID HIRSCHMANN: Too many regulators simply don’t have the insight and the expertise on the firms they’re regulating. They are regulating businesses that are leaps and bounds ahead of them from a technology standpoint.
Today’s restructuring proposal is a more specific targeting of the companies and government agencies that Barack Obama has been blaming for the financial crisis since before he was president. His language hasn’t changed much since campaign rallies like this one in Toledo last October.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Everyone was living beyond their means, from Wall Street to Washington to even some on Main Street.
The president wants congressional approval of his regulatory proposals this year. But with a full agenda already there, regulatory restructuring may have to wait.
In Washington, I’m John Dimsdale for Marketplace.
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