President Obama Criticizes Mitch McConnell in Finance Reform Push

President Obama used his weekly address today to remind Americans of all the damage left in the wake of the financial crisis and the need to pass financial reform.

"Eight million jobs lost, trillions in savings erased, countless dreams diminished or denied," Obama said. "I believe we have to do everything we can to ensure that no crisis like this ever happens again."

But the president also got personal today, directly attacking Senator Minority Leader Mitch McConnell for leading the charge against the Democrats' financial reform bill now making its way through Congress.

VIDEO: Obama Fights for Financial Reform
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In his address, the president cited a meeting the Kentucky Republican had weeks ago with Wall Street Executives.

"Lo and behold, when he returned to Washington, the Senate Republican Leader came out against the common-sense reforms we've proposed," the president said. "In doing so, he made the cynical and deceptive assertion that reform would somehow enable future bailouts -- when he knows that it would do just the opposite."

Administration officials say the current reform bill has two primary objectives: to protect taxpayers from bearing the risk of future bank failure and to bring the derivatives market out of the "shadow market" so it can be better regulated.

VIDEO: Barack Obamas Weekly Address
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Republicans have been railing against the bill, in particular a $50 billion fund -- paid for by the banks -- intended to pay for possible bank failures in the future.

The White House doesn't support the idea of such a fund, either, but Republicans are using it as an opportunity to ink the entire bill with the poisonous "bailout" moniker.

On the Senate floor earlier this week, McConnell said: "In fact, if you look at it carefully, it will lead to endless taxpayer bailouts of Wall Street banks."

All 41 Senate Republicans signed a letter Friday saying they will block the current reform bill if and when it is brought to the floor next week. The bill, they say, "establishes new and unlimited regulatory powers that will stifle small businesses and community banks."

Punctuating the political battle over financial reform is the latest revelation linking Wall Street greed to the disastrous U.S. housing crisis.

On Friday, the Securities and Exchange Commission slapped Goldman Sachs with a civil suit, alleging widespread investor fraud.

"The civil suit raises the level of awareness of deceit on Wall Street, the selfishness and self-serving behavior that needs to be regulated," University of Maryland economist Peter Morici said. "We might have gotten financial services reform without it, but this makes it more likely."

But when it will happen is unclear.

Republicans say they want to go back to the drawing board in hopes of getting a true bi-partisan bill.

But earlier this week White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said the administration would not support bad policy just for the sake of bi-partisanship. He used a rather obscure analogy to suggest that when it comes to bi-partisanship, Republicans are afraid of commitment.

"A lot of Republicans get to church," he said, "but very few of them have made it to the altar."

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