President Barack Obama is hoping to teach business America some lessons in financial responsibility with the recently passed financial reform bill, but far from Wall Street, he's starting in his own home – with potential babysitting jobs for Malia and Sasha.
The president said he's already started explaining the basic concepts of money, savings and interest to his daughters, Malia, 12, and Sasha, 9. He says they're almost old enough where they may be able to "earn some money babysitting," and that they have their own savings accounts.
For the rest of the country, Obama said he plans to have diligent watchdogs watch over the newly passed financial reform to protect consumers from the crisis that "devastated ordinary families over the last two years," but he added that there's been no decision on whether Elizabeth Warren will lead a key new watchdog agency.
The new legislation -- the most comprehensive financial overhaul in decades, which Obama signed into law Wednesday -- will create the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to provide education, regulation and oversight under the aegis of the Federal Reserve.
Speaking in an exclusive interview at the White House with "Good Morning America" consumer correspondent Elisabeth Leamy yesterday, the president addressed the growing debate about Warren's possible role.
The bureau was Warren's brainchild, and the Harvard University professor is considered a top contender to lead it.
But her appointment is a point of fierce controversy. Banking and business groups oppose her leadership, while consumer organization and unions favor it.
The president, who was a student at Harvard while Warren taught there, said he had the "highest regard" for Warren, but that the decision about who would be appointed to lead the bureau hadn't yet been made. This week the president has had to deal with another high-profile publicity firestorm involving a federal appointee.
The appointee, Shirley Sherrod, lost her job at the U.S. Department of Agriculture due to allegations of racism that were proved to be unfounded. Yesterday she talked by phone to the president, who expressed his regret about the situation.
USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack "jumped the gun" in demanding Sherrod's resignation in part because of the media culture, Obama told Leamy.
"I've told my team and I told my agencies that we have to make sure that we're focusing on doing the right thing instead of what looks to be politically necessary at that very moment. We have to take our time and think these issues through," he said.
After the public outcry, Sherrod was offered a new position with the government. The issue of Warren's role in the watchdog bureau has yet to be decided, but the president guaranteed that she would be "actively involved" in the process of making the bureau as effective as possible, and that she would work with him and with U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.
The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act is the most comprehensive financial overhaul law in decades. It gives the government stronger consumer watchdog powers and regulatory authority over Wall Street, among many other provisions.