ABC News' Sunlen Miller reports:
In his weekly address, President Obama called Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s mantra that the financial regulatory reform bill would amount to a bailout bill a “cynical and deceptive” argument.
“The leader of the Senate Republicans and the chair of the Republican Senate Campaign Committee met with two dozen top Wall Street executives to talk about how to block progress on this issue,” Obama said. “Lo and behold, when he returned to Washington, the Senate Republican leader came out against the common-sense reforms we’ve proposed. 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.”
After leaving a meeting with the president and other congressional leaders on Wednesday McConnell said he remained unconvinced that the package passed out of the Senate Banking Committee would avoid other bailouts.
"Where we are now, if we are left with the Chairman Dodd bill that came out of the Banking Committee on a straight party line vote, is that it is a bill that actually guarantees future bailouts of Wall Street banks,” McConnell said in the White House driveway following the meeting. “It will lead to endless taxpayer bailouts of Wall Street banks.”
Today, Obama countered, “We’re going to put in place new rules so that big banks and financial institutions will pay for the bad decisions they make – not taxpayers. Simply put, this means no more taxpayer bailouts.”
McConnell spokesman Don Stewart told ABC News Saturday that "it's especially disappointing for the president to attack Sen. McConnell for raising concerns about the bailout loopholes in the bill when just last night the White House agreed with Sen. McConnell and its own Treasury secretary and asked Senate Democrats to remove the $50 billion fund. Sen. McConnell takes the president at his word that he wants a bill that does not expose taxpayers to future bailouts and will not destroy job creation. And we are committed to working with anyone willing to achieve that."
In his address, President Obama said he hopes to leave the politics aside so that Democrats and Republicans can work together. But he also indicated that he would move forward without Republicans support, if need be.
“This is certain: One way or another, we will move forward," President Obama said. "This issue is too important. The costs of inaction are too great.”
The president said that if things remain unchanged in the financial system, “we’ll doom ourselves” to repeat the last financial crisis.
“Opposing reform will leave taxpayers on the hook if a crisis like this ever happens again,” he added, no doubt sending a message to the Capitol Hill as senators prepare to consider the bill as soon as next week on the Senate floor.
President Obama briefly outlined the plan for reform currently moving through Congress, mentioning the consumer financial protections, and new transparency on derivatives.
“Warren Buffett himself once described derivatives bought and sold with little oversight as ‘financial weapons of mass destruction,’" Obama said. "That’s why through reform we’d help ensure that these kinds of complicated financial transactions take place on an open market. Because, ultimately, it is a marketplace that is open, free and fair that will allow our economy to flourish.”
President Obama issued a veto threat should the bill not regulate the derivatives market properly.