By Nicholas Johnston
Sept. 19 (Bloomberg) — President Barack Obama said tougher financial regulations are needed worldwide to protect consumers, provide economic stability and prevent future crises.
With the leaders from the Group of 20 nations set to meet next week in Pittsburgh, Obama said in his weekly address on the radio and Internet that international cooperation has “stopped our economic freefall.”
“We know we still have a lot to do, in conjunction with nations around the world, to strengthen the rules governing financial markets and ensure that we never again find ourselves in the precarious situation we found ourselves in just one year ago,” Obama said.
The administration has proposed an overhaul of U.S. financial regulations including oversight of the systemic risk large financial institutions pose to the economy, new ways for the government to dismantle failed companies and a regulator to oversee financial products for consumers.
Obama reiterated his calls for Congress to act on his regulatory proposals, which he also made in a speech on Wall Street Sept. 13.
“As I told leaders of our financial community in New York City earlier this week, a return to normalcy can’t breed complacency,” Obama said in today’s address. “Our government needs to fundamentally reform the rules governing financial firms and markets to meet the challenges of the 21st century.”
Oversight for Consumers
Obama said a central element to this regulatory overhaul is a new agency to oversee consumer products, including mortgages and credit cards.
“We need clear rules, clearly enforced. And that’s what this agency will do,” Obama said.
Obama said lobbyists for financial institutions are already fighting against new regulations.
“We cannot let the narrow interests of a few come before the interests of all of us,” Obama said. “We cannot forget how close we came to the brink, and perpetuate the broken system and breakdown of responsibility that made it possible.”
In the Republican address, North Carolina Representative Sue Myrick focused on Obama’s health-care proposals, which are being debated in Congress. She said the plan being offered by Obama and congressional Democrats would lead to government-run insurance and that would mean delays in care.
Access to Care
“Every family that confronts a serious illness should have access to the highest-quality care at the lowest possible cost, with no delays,” Myrick said.
Obama has said he favors a government-run insurance program to compete with private insurers. While he has suggested he wouldn’t make it a requirement as part of final legislation, other Democrats including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California have said it must be part of any bill.
“Replacing your current health care with a government-run system is not the answer,” Myrick said.
Myrick also said the health-care proposals would lead to tax increases on small businesses that would lead to the elimination of more than 1.6 million jobs.
“This is the worst possible time to be imposing new, job- killing taxes,” Myrick said.