the WHITE HOUSEPresident Barack Obama

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"Through All the Noise and Lobbyists and Partisanship... a Simple Choice"

With Senate Republicans having just ended their blockade against Wall Street Reform, the President discusses the urgency of the issues at hand.

A Recovery Act that’s put more than 2 million people to work and helped bring our economy back from the brink, and provided the single biggest investment in the clean energy economy in America’s history.  Sweeping health reform that put Americans in control of their health care instead of insurance companies, that is already taking hold.  The President talked about these core elements of a new foundation for America already signed into law before addressing the next major element: Wall Street Reform.  After repeatedly blocking reform from coming up for debate, Senate Republicans had just agreed to allow debate to begin, meaning that an end to bailouts, transparency for risky derivatives, say for shareholders over executive pay, and protections for consumers against deceptive banks practices are now all within reach.

So we’re going to see how this debate unfolds.  We’re going to get this done.  And we’re going to get it done because you demand it.  It’s been two years since this crisis, born on Wall Street, slammed into Main Street with its full fury.  And while things aren’t nearly back to normal out here, they’re getting back to normal pretty quick up there.  Some in Washington think this debate is moving too fast.  They think, well, this is kind of a political game; let’s see how this whole thing can play to our advantage in November. 

See, that’s not how I play.  I’ve been calling for better rules on Wall Street since 2007, before this crisis happened.  (Applause.)  So I don’t think we’re moving too fast.  I think we’ve been moving too slow.  It’s time to get this done.  And I don’t think you want to see us wait for another year or two years.  I don’t think you think Washington is moving too fast.  (Applause.)  I think you want to get this done.  (Applause.)

You shouldn’t have to wait another day for the protections from some of the practices that got us into this mess.  We can’t let the recovery that’s finally beginning to take hold fall prey to a whole new round of recklessness.  If we don’t learn the lessons of this crisis, we doom ourselves to repeat it.  And I refuse to let that happen.  (Applause.)  So the time for reform is now.  (Applause.)

Quincy, let me just say this.  Through all the noise and the lobbyists and the partisanship -- and I know sometimes you’re watching TV and saying, sheesh, everybody is yelling and hollering, and why are they so mad?  But this debate comes down to a simple choice:  Are we going to go down the same road, where irresponsibility of a few can put millions of families at risk and stick taxpayers with a tab?


THE PRESIDENT:  Or are we going to protect consumers, and strengthen our financial system, and put rules in place that keep this from happening ever again?  (Applause.)  Are we going to give in to the special interests, or are we going to score another victory for the American people?  (Applause.)  Are we going to stick with the status quo?  Or are we going to bring about fundamental change that makes things work for ordinary Americans?  (Applause.) 

We’ve got the power to do something about this.  That’s all it comes down to -- the will to act.  I still believe we can come together, just like you all came together during those floods, filling those sandbags -- everybody joining together, everybody breaking a little sweat, everybody helping out.  That’s how America got built.  (Applause.) 

We are not powerless in the face of our challenges.  We don’t quit when things get tough.  We’re not afraid.  (Applause.) When something happens, we come together.  We move forward.  We act.  We are Americans -- our destiny is written by us, not for us.  (Applause.)  And if we remember that and summon that spirit once again, we’re going to strengthen our economy today and tomorrow, and restore security to the middle class.  (Applause.)