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Weekly remarks: Obama vows more financial regulations; GOP sees national energy tax in his plans

December 12, 2009 |  3:00 am

White House of Democrat president Barack Obama

Weekly Remarks of President Obama, as provided by the White House

Over the past two years, more than seven million Americans have lost their jobs, and factories and businesses across our country have been shuttered. In one way or another, we’ve all been touched by the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.

The difficult steps we’ve taken since January have helped to break our fall, and begin to get us back on our feet.  Our economy is growing again. The flood of job loss we saw at the beginning of this year slowed to a relative trickle last month. These are good signs for the future, but little comfort to all of our neighbors who remain out of a job. And my solemn commitment is to work every day, in every way I can, to push this recovery forward and build a new foundation for our lasting growth and prosperity.

That’s why I announced some additional steps this week to spur private sector hiring. We’ll give an added boost to small businesses across our nation through additional tax cuts and access to lending they desperately need to grow. We’ll rebuild more of our vital infrastructure and promote advanced....

...manufacturing in clean energy to put Americans to work doing the work we need done. And I have called for the extension of unemployment insurance and health benefits to help those who have lost their jobs weather these storms until we reach that brighter day.

But even as we dig our way out of this deep hole, it’s important that we address the irresponsibility and recklessness that got us into this mess in the first place.

Some of it was the result of an era of easy credit, when millions of Americans borrowed beyond their means, bought homes they couldn’t afford and assumed that housing prices would always rise and the day of reckoning would never come.

But much of it was due to the irresponsibility of large financial institutions on Wall Street that gambled on risky loans and complex financial products, seeking short-term profits and big bonuses with little regard for long-term consequences. It was, as some have put it, risk management without the management. And their actions, in the absence of strong oversight, intensified the cycle of bubble-and-bust and led to a financial crisis that threatened to bring down the entire economy.  

It was a disaster that could have been avoided if we’d had clearer rules of the road for Wall Street and actually enforced them.

We can’t change that history. But we have an absolute responsibility to learn from it, and take steps to prevent a repeat of the crisis from which we are still recovering. That’s why I’ve proposed a series of financial reforms that would target the abuses we have seen and leave us less exposed to the kind of breakdown we just experienced.

They would bring new transparency and accountability to the financial markets, so that the kind of risky dealings that sparked the crisis would be fully disclosed and properly regulated.
 
They would give us the tools to ensure that the failure of one large bank or financial institution won’t spread like a virus through the entire financial system.  Because we should never again find ourselves in the position in which our only choices are bailing out banks or letting our economy collapse.

And they would consolidate the consumer protection functions currently spread across half a dozen agencies and vest them in a new Consumer Financial Protection Agency. This agency would have the authority to put an end to misleading and dishonest practices of banks and institutions that market financial products like credit and debit cards; mortgage, auto and payday loans.

These are commonsense reforms that respond to the obvious problems exposed by the financial crisis. But, as we’ve learned so many times before, common sense doesn’t always prevail in Washington.

Just last week, Republican leaders in the House summoned more than 100 key lobbyists for the financial industry to a “pep rally,” and urged them to redouble their efforts to block meaningful financial reform. Not that they needed the encouragement. These industry lobbyists have already spent more than $300 million on lobbying the debate this year.

The special interests and their agents in Congress claim that reforms like the Consumer Financial Protection Agency will stifle consumer choice and that updated rules and oversight will frustrate innovation in the financial markets. But Americans don’t choose to be victimized by mysterious fees, changing terms, and pages and pages of fine print. And while innovation should be encouraged, risky schemes that threaten our entire economy should not.

We can’t afford to let the same phony arguments and bad habits of Washington kill financial reform and leave American consumers and our economy vulnerable to another meltdown.

Yesterday, the House passed comprehensive reform legislation that incorporates some of the essential changes we need, and the Senate Banking Committee is working on its own package of reforms. I urge both houses to act as quickly as possible to pass real reform that restores free and fair markets in which recklessness and greed are thwarted; and hard work, responsibility, and competition are rewarded – reform that works for businesses, investors, and consumers alike.

That’s how we’ll keep our economy and our institutions strong. That’s how we’ll restore a sense of responsibility and accountability to both Wall Street and Washington. And that’s how we’ll safeguard everything the American people are working so hard to build – a broad-based recovery; lasting prosperity; and a renewed American Dream. Thank you.    ###

CapitolHillNight

Weekly Republican Remarks by Rep. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, as provided by the Republican National Committee

Hi, I’m Congressman Marsha Blackburn, and I have the great honor of representing Tennessee’s Seventh District.

Next week, I and a number of my Republican colleagues in the House of Representatives will head to Copenhagen – Denmark’s capital city – where diplomats and politicians from around the world have gathered in an attempt to try to reach an international, UN-brokered agreement on climate change.

If President Obama has his way, the Copenhagen conference will produce mandatory emissions limits that would destroy millions of American jobs and damage our economic competitiveness for decades to come.

To comply with this UN-brokered agreement, Washington Democrats want to impose a ‘cap-and-trade’ national energy tax, a bureaucratic nightmare that would make households, small businesses and family farms pay higher prices for electricity, gasoline, food and virtually every product made in America. This legislation is currently making its way through the Senate after passing the House of Representatives in June.

President Obama himself has said that as a result of this national energy tax, electricity prices would, and I quote, ‘necessarily skyrocket.’  His own Department of Energy has determined that millions of jobs would be lost.

Republican Representative Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee

Since Democrats in Congress have failed to get a cap and trade bill to the President’s desk ahead of the Copenhagen Summit, President Obama took unilateral action this week to pile more regulation on the backs of families and small businesses in the name of combating global warming. 

On Monday the President’s EPA administrator, Lisa Jackson, took the first step toward imposing costly new regulations on businesses for emitting carbon. My bill, H.R. 391 would stop the EPA.

Just think of what will happen to small businesses and manufacturers hit with these skyrocketing energy bills, especially when nations like India and China don’t agree to these mandatory emissions limits.

With Americans already facing double-digit unemployment, there could not be a worse time to unilaterally disarm our engines of job creation and economic growth.

In fact, small businesses are already feeling anxiety and holding off on hiring due to the prospect of this national energy tax, a government takeover of health care, and other costly policies Democrats have in the works.

These aren’t issues President Obama, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Democrats in Congress will talk about when they are in Copenhagen, but Republicans will.

Also absent from the discussion in Copenhagen is the Climategate scandal. Recently leaked e-mails reveal climate scientists have a long track record of manipulating data to hide scientific evidence that contradicts the global warming establishment. 

And why? 

To bully citizens and lawmakers into supporting job-killing energy tax schemes. This scandal raises serious questions about Democrats’ climate control plans, questions that deserve a transparent investigation – not a rush to judgment – by the bureaucrats in Copenhagen.

Republicans are all for clean water, clean air, and clean energy. We just don't think we have to tax people out of house and home to get there. That’s why we have proposed an ‘all of the above’ energy strategy that says, let’s put every clean, responsible energy option on the table so we can create jobs, ease the strain on family budgets, and clean up our environment.

This is one of a series of common-sense solutions Republicans have proposed to empower families and small businesses while Democrats have continued to rely on more spending, more regulation and more government to try and solve every problem.

Nothing sums this up more than the trillion-dollar ‘stimulus’ of borrowing and spending that has failed to create jobs ‘immediately’ and keeps unemployment below eight percent as promised. Instead, more than three million Americans have lost their jobs and unemployment has risen to double-digits.

Given the opportunity to try a new approach, President Obama has instead proposed more of the same ‘stimulus’ spending paid for by borrowing from our children and grandchildren. 

It’s time for Washington to learn the hard lesson that families already know: growing debt only cripples freedom and spending more money than you have is no plan for prosperity. Only Republicans have provided a fiscally responsible blueprint for helping families and small businesses weather this economic crisis and get back up on their feet. Thank you for listening.    ###

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Photo: Ron Edmonds / Associated Press; Associated Press (Blackburn).

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