Lobbying

Obama and the Banksters

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Oh look, the president made more remarks about the economy today, after meeting with a bunch of bank CEOs. Let's listen in!

I asked them to come to Washington today—at the end of this difficult year for their industry, but also for the economy—to discuss where we've been, what we expect of them going forward, and how we can work together to accelerate economic recovery. […]

Not here to micromanage; just here to tell people what to do

So my main message in today's meeting was very simple:  that America's banks received extraordinary assistance from American taxpayers to rebuild their industry—and now that they're back on their feet, we expect an extraordinary commitment from them to help rebuild our economy. […]

Now, no one wants banks making the kinds of risky loans that got us into this situation in the first place.  And it's true that regulators are requiring them to hold more of their capital as a hedge against the kind of problems that we saw last year.  But given the difficulty businesspeople are having as lending has declined, and given the exceptional assistance banks received to get them through a difficult time, we expect them to explore every responsible way to help get our economy moving again.

And I heard from these executives that they are engaging in various programs like "second look" programs, hiring more folks, raising their target goals in terms of lending—all of which sounded positive, but we expect some results, because I'm getting too many letters from small businesses who explain that they are creditworthy and banks that they've had a long-term relationship with are still having problems giving them loans.  We think that's something that we can—that can be fixed.  And so I urged these institutions here today to go back and take a third and fourth look about how they are operating when it comes to small business and medium-sized business lending.

We also discussed the need to pass meaningful financial reform that will protect American consumers from exploitation and American—the American economy from another financial crisis of the kind which we just came out of.

So! No more risky loans, but a "fourth look" at the credit-unworthy. Boo to "exploitation" and "payday loans," yay for flowing credit and consumers having money. "We, we, we," all the way home, and of course the president's not here to tell private concerns how to run their business!

In the end, my interest isn't in vilifying any one person or institution or industry; it's not to dictate to them or micromanage their compensation practices to ensure that consumers and—my job is to ensure that consumers and the larger economy are protected from risky speculation and predatory practices, that credit is flowing, that businesses can grow, and jobs are once again being created at the pace we need. […]

Ultimately, in this country, we rise and fall together—banks and small businesses, consumers and large corporations, and we have a shared interest in working together to ensure a lasting recovery that will benefit all of us and not just some of us.

For more unintentional definitions of the word "statism," read the whole thing.