Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

January 21, 2010

OBAMA PUSHES NEW LIMITS ON BANKS.... Now, there's a good soundbite from the president: "[I]f these folks want a fight, it's a fight I'm ready to have."

The comment came during a White House event this morning, in which President Obama proposed some new restrictions on some of the nation's largest banks, including "The Volcker Rule," named after former Fed Chairman Paul Volcker, which says that "banks will no longer be allowed to own, invest or sponsor hedge funds, private equity funds, or proprietary trading operations for their own profit unrelated to serving their customers."

Obama added, "I'm also proposing that we prevent the further consolidation of our financial system. There has long been a deposit cap in place to guard against too much risk being concentrated in a single bank. The same principle should apply to wider forms of funding employed by large financial institutions in today's economy. The American people will not be served by a financial system that comprises just a few massive firms. That's not good for consumers; it's not good for the economy. And through this policy, that is an outcome we will avoid.... Never again will the American taxpayer be held hostage by a bank that is 'too big to fail.'"

But it was the rhetoric towards the end that signals a shift in emphasis from the White House: "So if these folks want a fight, it's a fight I'm ready to have. And my resolve is only strengthened when I see a return to old practices at some of the very firms fighting reform; and when I see soaring profits and obscene bonuses at some of the very firms claiming that they can't lend more to small business, they can't keep credit card rates low, they can't pay a fee to refund taxpayers for the bailout without passing on the cost to shareholders or customers -- that's the claims they're making. It's exactly this kind of irresponsibility that makes clear reform is necessary.

"We've come through a terrible crisis. The American people have paid a very high price. We simply cannot return to business as usual."

It's seemed as if Volcker was on the outside looking in for much of the last year. I think that's changing.

Steve Benen 1:40 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (36)

Bookmark and Share
 
Comments

Caint say Pres Hopey Changey dont talk a good fight...

Trouble is: We've yet to see him fight one...

(and Volcker is now the economic radical in the administration -- holy madre!)

Posted by: neill on January 21, 2010 at 1:46 PM | PERMALINK

Why should I believe he'll fight? He's not fighting for health care reform, and he said that was his top priority.

I'm so depressed. I sent an email to the Democrats yesterday that they should fight for something - it's their job, it's what they were elected to do. Instead, they just look like spineless cowards.

One thing to say for Republicans - even after they lose, even though they are demonstrably wrong, they still fight for something.

Why should I believe that President Obama will fight for financial reform??? And if he won't, when it's his job, why should I?

Posted by: John Fowler on January 21, 2010 at 1:49 PM | PERMALINK

It's about time. Now he needs to launch Geitner and his close ties to these blood suckers. In addition he needs to call Pelosi in and tell her to form a posse. Get the damned bill signed and sent up for him to sign. Call in Ried and tell him to do form his own posse and set the ball rollling for some changes in the bill the House was looking for and do it with Reconciliation after Obama signs the damed thing. Poo to the GOP and what they will say. Once the population actually SEES what is in the bill they will be happy.

Then he needs to get his ass on the road and explain the bill. Call up Blitzer, and Olberman, and ,yes, FOX and have them question him on the substance of the BILL.

Get going fella, get going!!!

Posted by: stevio on January 21, 2010 at 1:51 PM | PERMALINK

We'll see. Obama's legacy is in his own hands now. Will he become Obama the candidate that millions voted for, or Obama the meek.

One thing is for sure, if the democrats don't spend the next 10 months on the offensive, pushing for policies that the American people put them in power to achieve, they WILL pay dearly at the ballot box. And that my friends means we're back to the foxes guarding the henhouse.

Although I must say I really don't think it matters anymore after the SCOTUS ruling today. America in effect has become a corporate entity.

Posted by: citizen_pain on January 21, 2010 at 1:53 PM | PERMALINK

Okay - Obama makes another nice speech. Yawn. I will begin to pay attention if and when he really fights for what he says. Words are meaningless without action. So far, I have seen Obama sitting on the sidelines, watching the action. If he wants to be a leader, then he had better start leading.

Posted by: Sheridan on January 21, 2010 at 1:53 PM | PERMALINK

Boy, those bankers must be running scared after that ass whooping he gave the insurance companies. Olympia Snowe might even get on board with this.

Posted by: the seal on January 21, 2010 at 1:55 PM | PERMALINK

"[I]f these folks want a fight, it's a fight I'm ready to have."
He says that a lot, but he never says who he expects to do the fighting on his side. Maybe he wants a bi-partisan fight, like one of those silent-movie fights with pies.

Posted by: hells littlest angel on January 21, 2010 at 2:03 PM | PERMALINK

Frankly, I'm surprised he's talking tough. I expected him to go on capitulating to the corporattions and the Right. More power to him if he keeps it up and he must keep it up if there is any hope of retaining Congressional seats in the Fall. Only time will tell. I'm so-o-o-o glad to see Volcker and Goolsbee in the game now.

Posted by: CDW on January 21, 2010 at 2:11 PM | PERMALINK

"[I]f these folks want a fight, it's a fight I'm ready to have."

Bold words, which would have a lot more credibility if he were more visibly fighting for health insurance reform.

Posted by: Gregory on January 21, 2010 at 2:15 PM | PERMALINK

Times like these I wonder if Obama wouldn't have made a much better head of the DNC than president. His talents, and hecertainly is talented at using technology for grass roots organizing and also at sloganeering, might be a perfect fit. Let someone else lead while obama provides the media with soundbites.

Posted by: tlaloc on January 21, 2010 at 2:20 PM | PERMALINK

Geithner and Summers are toast.

Posted by: Scott F. on January 21, 2010 at 2:21 PM | PERMALINK

Obama says: "If these folks want a fight, it's a fight I'm ready to have."

The corporations say: "We don't want a fight. We want to have our way."

Obama says: "Oh. OK then."

Posted by: SecularAnimist on January 21, 2010 at 2:21 PM | PERMALINK

I'm wondering if the White House and the DNC realize just how demoralized Democratic voters are now. I read that line and thought to myself, I'll believe it when I see it. If the voters are willing to put a fight, shouldn't they expect the same from their elected officials? Democrats are their own worse enemy and if they allow a year's worth of work to go down the toilet, they deserve to lose. I've never seen such tail tucking before in my life. It's pitiful and makes me ashamed.

Posted by: Joy on January 21, 2010 at 2:24 PM | PERMALINK

Quick go see if Larry Summers has obtained the approval from his and Obama's boss for this bold step. What does the head of Goldman Sachs have to say?

I am sorry, but I will remain unimpressed until I see a real fight with real action.

Posted by: Ron Byers on January 21, 2010 at 2:26 PM | PERMALINK

shitcan summers and install volcker.

Posted by: bkny on January 21, 2010 at 2:27 PM | PERMALINK

Obama says: "If these folks want a fight, it's a fight I'm ready to have."

The corporations say: "We don't want a fight. We want to have our way."

Obama says: "Oh. OK then."

Gee, SA. That's bitter. And absolutely fucking dead on.

Posted by: hells littlest angel on January 21, 2010 at 2:32 PM | PERMALINK

Good move by Obama. Overdue, but not too late for redemption. This is a fight he can win. And he needs a win. Unlike the tax on the largest firms announced a couple of days ago, there is nothing toothless and just for show about this policy. This one gets to the heart of the matter.

Posted by: gone_west on January 21, 2010 at 2:34 PM | PERMALINK

Hopefully, Obama sees the tsunami of public opinion on the horizon and is finally "coming to Jesus."

No, we definitely can't trust him and have to start ratcheting up the heat to keep him moving.

Next, he needs to fire his economic team and appoint real regulators who will keep their boot firmly applied to the throats of the financial institutions. The first one that gets cute needs to be taken down HARD.

Usury laws with reasonable limits on unsecured debt also need to be re-established. No one will be spending anything while paying 30% on credit card debt.

That's my fantasy. :)

Posted by: bdop4 on January 21, 2010 at 2:37 PM | PERMALINK

More like, "It's a fight I'm ready to say I'm ready to have."

Posted by: Roddy McCorley on January 21, 2010 at 2:47 PM | PERMALINK

I agree with Joy, if he lets HCR die after a year's worth of work and debate, nothing, NOTHING is going to save him or the Dems. They can pass any other bill they want, but nobody will forget this colossal failure, especially not the 30 million Americans who are left to twist in the wind.
I haven't cared much for the Senate bill, and have said so here repeatedly, but unfortunately all of Obama's poor leadership and endless delays by corporate whore Dems who controlled the process have allowed everything to be derailed by one special election for a 41 vote Senate minority.
If Obama and the Dems think they can just shrug their shoulders and say "hey, we only got 59 votes, whaddaya gonna do? Ooh, but look over here, a shiny new bill for 'jobs' and 'banking reform'!"--then they are actually worse than the Repubs and deserve to live in physical exile from this country for the rest of their lives. They're definitely going to be sent into political exile. At least Repubs are honest about saying they refuse to pass it, Dems would be much, much worse by leading the voters to believe that they were finally going to get it done, only to stab them in the back using a lame excuse like a single special election.

Posted by: Allan Snyder on January 21, 2010 at 2:48 PM | PERMALINK

Good move by Obama. Overdue, but not too late for redemption. This is a fight he can win. And he needs a win.

Not if he lets HCR fail and pretends like no one will care. Nothing he does will save him from that failure, nothing.

Posted by: Allan Snyder on January 21, 2010 at 2:51 PM | PERMALINK

Question for almost everybody on this comment thread: How dot hey imagine anything would be any different today if Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, Chris Dodd, Dennis Kucinich, Bill Richardson, Mike Gravel, Tom Vilsack, or any other Democrat was President. As much as we like to look at the executive office for all of our problems, Barack Obama, Larry Summers, and Tim Geithner don't have any votes in the Senate. It's Jim Webb, Joe Lieberman, and Ben Nelson that do. If Barack Obama wanted to be able to pressure those people, he'd need a strong infrastructure. Younger people are either hopelessly cynical about process, or so idealistic the people they vote for could be indicted and thrown into prison, and they'd set up some sort of online petition to get them out, unions are all bark and no bite, since their numbers have declined so fast (all the people heralding people like Jim Webb and Michael Bennet for supporting the public option should aks them why they're blocking the EFCA. Funny how almost every "swing" Democrat comes from either a commuter state or a right-to-work state.) and their leaders choose the stupidest issues for their hills-to-die-on, and the only places where Democrats completely dominate the machines the machines fall apart because they're so complacent (just look at Massachusettes. This kind of defeat wouldn't have happened if Carl Levin or Robert Byrd died. The local Democratic machines in those states would've fought like it was their 50th vote!).

Just read the chapter on Franklin Roosevelt in Hofstadter's "American Political Tradition." Politicians have to work with people who stab them in the back one day, only to rise the next day with the knife still in all the time. Roosevelt's first project, the NRA, was endorsed by the Chamber of Commerce, and all unions got was collective bargaining rights; they didn't even get a ban on individual bargaining, company unions, or open shops. It wasn't until the Chamber and they're rich backers withdrew their support that unions got the Wagner Act, workers got Social Security, and a wealth tax was raised. This was in 1935, four years after Roosevelt was sworn in for his first term. Obama, Pelosi, and Reid gives us a too-small but effective stimulus, fair pay for female workers, and a new hate crimes bill, just to list three things, and people act as if they elected King George III (or George Bush III). All this in year one. And there MIGHT be 30 million more people with health insurance who won't be discriminated against because of their pre-existing conditions, and some form of climate legislation. The Washington Monthly has been too damn resonable. They might wanna get started on a new "Barack Obama is Herbert Hoober" story like Harpers and TNR did. You might start losing liberal readers.

Posted by: Anonymous on January 21, 2010 at 2:55 PM | PERMALINK

Well, holy crap.

Barney Frank went on CNBC a few minutes ago and took it upon himself to walk back the President's plan for TBTF banks.

He told Erin Burnett that Congress would effectively dilute this plan, add 'wink-wink' exemptions and not make it effective until five years from now.

Way to go, Barney; you just showed who puts money in your pocket---the banks.

Seriously, can we get rid of this guy already? He's one of the guys who was responsible for the Fannie/Freddie disasters as well.

Posted by: Johnny Tremaine on January 21, 2010 at 3:11 PM | PERMALINK

If Barney Frank said anything remotely like that, then I've lost all respect for him. I lost most respect when he said HCR was dead after one special election, so there wasn't much left to lose anyway.

Posted by: Allan Snyder on January 21, 2010 at 3:21 PM | PERMALINK

While many of us on the left have been strong fans of Barney Frank over the years, people on the right have hated him. I often thought they hated him because he is gay, or because he is effective, but yesterday I heard a conservative friend say that conservatives hate him because he is really one of the architects of the Fanny/Freddie disasters. Twice in two days. Humm.

Posted by: Ron Byers on January 21, 2010 at 3:23 PM | PERMALINK

Hey, don't believe me about Frank. Go to CNBC's site, or just tune in.

Maria Bartirromo was just crowing about it two minutes ago.

Something about,"Investors sold off on financial on the President's statement on TBTF, but recovered on Barney Frank's comment that it would be moderated and extended out over a period of years."
But, I'm paraphrasing.

Posted by: Johnny Tremaine on January 21, 2010 at 3:30 PM | PERMALINK

As an add on: right after Barney Frank went off the air, there was scuttlebutt speculation between the two anchors, Erin Burnett and Jim Cramer, that there were divisions of opinion inside the administration, and that Frank was partly prodded to do it by Tim Geithner and Summers.

(So it's Geithner and Summers vs. Paul Volcker on the inside.)

Those latter two guys are going to be the end of his Presidency if he doesn't do something about them, and soon.

Posted by: Johnny Tremaine on January 21, 2010 at 3:37 PM | PERMALINK

OK, so we took a hit....a big hit, that may hurt for a while....but what are you willing to do to hit back? If we keep telling this president, he better fight them or we will fight him, not only will we feel better, but shit will get done. President Obama got it! He may need a few lessons on 'How to fight like a thug, while being presidential.' but he now gets it. Flood the OFA website with how you feel. Just don't do nothing!

Posted by: Sharon on January 21, 2010 at 3:49 PM | PERMALINK

I haven't seen Obama fight for anything other than the Office of the Presidency.

But, you know, whatever.

Posted by: kc on January 21, 2010 at 4:07 PM | PERMALINK

Two guys in a fight. Demo and Repub. Demo has a knife, Repub has gun and a club.

The Repub stumbles and drops the gun.
"Geez" says the Demo, "that's not fair!"

He picks up the gun and hands it back to the Repub.

Political business as usual.

Posted by: Doug on January 21, 2010 at 4:39 PM | PERMALINK

Note that his tough talk is even in the passive voice. The president lacks good help. Can someone please get him righteously angry at the mess we're in? Please?

"Am I the one to whom you were attemting to speak?" DLC, Movie: "Driver of cab who is nuts"

Posted by: sparko on January 21, 2010 at 4:44 PM | PERMALINK

Obama fight for something? I'll believe it when I see it.

Posted by: Joe Bauers on January 21, 2010 at 5:02 PM | PERMALINK

Allan Snyder wrote: "... if he lets HCR die after a year's worth of work and debate, nothing, NOTHING is going to save him or the Dems."

Health care reform is already dead. The Senate killed it when they gutted all the actual "reform" from the legislation leaving only the mandate that the American people guarantee the profits of the insurance corporations in perpetuity, under penalty of law.

What I am hearing is a lot of whining from partisan Democrats who are upset that progressives won't support their very un-progressive legislation: "why won't those progressives set aside their silly principles and support The Party? Don't they realize that victory for The Party is all that matters?"

I got pretty sick of idiotic Bush-bootlicking partisan Republicans chanting "RAH RAH RED TEAM!" for eight years.

And it isn't any prettier when partisan Democrats turn every policy debate into a chant of "RAH RAH BLUE TEAM!"

Posted by: SecularAnimist on January 21, 2010 at 5:24 PM | PERMALINK

"[I]f these folks want a fight, it's a fight I'm ready to have."

That's almost as funny as his knee-slapper about the Consumer Financial Protections Agency being "non-negotiable"

He's a real laugh-a-minute...

Posted by: an old guy on January 21, 2010 at 5:57 PM | PERMALINK

Don't hold your breath, Mr. Benen, on Obama's new rhetoric or any new Volcker visibility.

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on January 21, 2010 at 6:22 PM | PERMALINK

"Question for almost everybody on this comment thread: How dot hey imagine anything would be any different today if Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, Chris Dodd, Dennis Kucinich, Bill Richardson, Mike Gravel, Tom Vilsack, or any other Democrat was President."

I honestly doubt Hillary would have let herself get rickrolled by the right the way Obama has. Why? Cause she'd already been down that path and I think she's smart enough to have learned from the first time around.

Do I know she would have gotten a better bill out of congress? No, but I strongly suspect she would have actually tried. Obama just didn't.

Posted by: Tlaloc on January 21, 2010 at 6:36 PM | PERMALINK
Post a comment









Remember personal info?










 

 

Read Jonathan Rowe remembrance and articles
Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

Advertise in WM



buy from Amazon and
support the Monthly