'GMA' Transcript: President Obama on Financial Reform, Elizabeth Warren and Shirley Sherrod

So important to Michelle and myself is we're just not that far removed from what most Americans are going through. I mean it was only a few years ago when, you know, we had high credit card balances. We had two little kids that we were trying to figure out how to save for -- enough for college, that we were still thinking about our own retirement and looking at our retirement accounts and wondering, are we going to be able to get enough assets in there to -- to make sure we're protected?

So both of us having grown up in very modest settings and having a lot of student loan debt when we graduated, we know exactly how, you know, even folks who are working very hard and are relatively lucky in good jobs can feel the financial stress these days. And, obviously, these last two years have been especially hard for people.

LEAMY: OK. We've been talking about how this law can help consumers. And what helps consumers sometimes hurts business.

OBAMA: Right.

LEAMY: And the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, in fact, has spent $150 million fighting your initiative -

OBAMA: Right.

LEAMY: -- and has been quoted saying that you're micromanaging industry, that you're creating one size fits all regulations.

Is your administration hurting businesses and the jobs they create?

OBAMA: No. And the reason I can say that with some confidence is that, first of all, the Chamber of Commerce has had a number of positions on eliminating regulations, on clean air or clean water or this or that, all through the Bush administration, all through the Clinton administration. I mean if you look at their complaints from 20 years ago or 10 years ago or five years ago, they're pretty similar to the complaints that -- that they have now.

There's no doubt that it's possible to create regulatory structures that are too burdensome, that could suppress creativity and innovation in the free market. I think that, just to take the financial regulatory bill, here's an example where we struck the right balance. We emphasized a lot on -- of -- on transparency, on openness. In a lot of cases, we're getting input from people in the markets to figure out how do we make these regulations work in a way that -- that doesn't squeeze on businesses too hard, but make sure that taxpayers are protected.

But let's just look at the context here. I mean, the fact is, is that as a consequence of some of the reckless behavior on Wall Street, the irresponsibility on Wall Street, Americans lost eight million jobs, lost trillions of dollars of wealth. Their homes have declined in value. The consequences for this economy have been horrendous. And I don't think any ordinary American would say it's not -- that -- that it doesn't make sense for us to make sure that we're monitoring this stuff more carefully, that we are rewarding good behavior, that we are punishing folks who are gaming the system.

That's what I think most Americans would expect, because, sadly, they're the ones who have ended up bearing so much of the costs of decisions that were made by people who weren't really paying attention, and, frankly, a government that wasn't paying enough close attention.

LEAMY: If I can switch gears for a second, I understand that you finally got the chance today to speak with Shirley Sherrod. And I know she wanted to speak with you about race.

And I wonder, did you have that conversation?

And is there something we can all learn here?

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