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Weekly remarks: Obama wants more regulations; Eric Cantor warns of more taxes coming

April 17, 2010 |  3:00 am

Democrat president Barack Obama in the Oval Office on the phone with his feet up on the historical desk

Weekly remarks by President Obama, as provided by the White House

There were many causes of the turmoil that ripped through our economy over the past two years. But above all, this crisis was caused by failures in the financial industry. What is clear is that this crisis could have been avoided if Wall Street firms were more accountable, if financial dealings were more transparent, and if consumers and shareholders were given more information and authority to make decisions.

But that did not happen. And that’s because special interests have waged a relentless campaign to thwart even basic, common-sense rules – rules to prevent abuse and protect consumers. In fact, the financial industry and its powerful lobby have opposed modest safeguards against the kinds of reckless risks and bad practices that led to this very crisis.  

The consequences of this failure of responsibility – from Wall Street to Washington – are all around us: 8 million jobs lost, trillions in savings erased, countless dreams diminished or denied. I believe we have to do everything we can to ensure that no crisis like this ever happens again. That’s why I’m fighting so hard to pass a set of Wall Street reforms and consumer protections. A plan for reform is currently moving through Congress.

Here’s what this plan would do.  First, it would enact the strongest consumer financial protections ever.  It would put consumers back in the driver’s seat by forcing big banks and credit card companies to provide clear, understandable information so that Americans can make financial decisions that work best for them.  

Next, these reforms would bring new transparency to financial dealings. Part of what led to this crisis was firms like AIG and others making huge and risky bets – using things like....

...derivatives – without accountability.  Warren Buffett himself once described derivatives bought and sold with little oversight as “financial weapons of mass destruction.” 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.


We would also close loopholes to stop the kind of recklessness and irresponsibility we’ve seen. It’s these loopholes that allowed executives to take risks that not only endangered their companies, but also our entire economy. And 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. Never again will taxpayers be on the hook because a financial company is deemed “too big to fail.”

Finally, these reforms hold Wall Street accountable by giving shareholders new power in the financial system. They’ll get a say on pay: a vote on the salaries and bonuses awarded to top executives. And the SEC will ensure that shareholders have more power in corporate elections, so that investors and pension holders have a stronger voice in determining what happens with their life savings.

Now, unsurprisingly, these reforms have not exactly been welcomed by the people who profit from the status quo – as well their allies in Washington. This is probably why the special interests have spent a lot of time and money lobbying to kill or weaken the bill. Just the other day, in fact, 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.

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. Every day we don’t act, the same system that led to bailouts remains in place – with the exact same loopholes and the exact same liabilities. And if we don’t change what led to the crisis, we’ll doom ourselves to repeat it. That’s the truth.  Opposing reform will leave taxpayers on the hook if a crisis like this ever happens again.

So my hope is that we can put this kind of politics aside.  My hope is that Democrats and Republicans can find common ground and move forward together.  But this is certain: one way or another, we will move forward. This issue is too important. The costs of inaction are too great.  We will hold Wall Street accountable. We will protect and empower consumers in our financial system. That’s what reform is all about. That’s what we’re fighting for. And that’s exactly what we’re going to achieve. Thank you.    ####

The Capitol at night

Weekly remarks by Rep. Eric Cantor of Virginia,
as provided by the Republican National Committee

Hello. I’m House Republican Whip Eric Cantor and I have the great privilege of representing the hardworking people of Virginia’s 7th District. 

This week, Americans from coast to coast sent their tax payments to Washington.  Your government continues to spend more and more, and that means your taxes are more and more. This has to stop – and you can help stop it.

The challenges and situations faced by families, small business people, and young workers have no doubt made this tax day particularly painful.  But as painful as it was, the truth is that the actions taken by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Majority Leader Harry Reid and the Obama Administration are going to make the ‘tax days’ of the future much much worse.  

President Obama has signed 25 tax increases passed by the Democratically controlled Congress into law that will cost families and small business people more than $670 billion over the next 10 years. 

Many of these break the President’s campaign promise not to raise taxes on families making less than $250,000 a year.  In the House, Speaker Pelosi and her majority have passed legislation that would result in more than a trillion – that’s with a T – dollars in net tax increases.

But tax increases are the symptom.  Runaway spending is Washington’s disease.
   
The Democrats control every lever of power in Washington and they’ve never met a tax they didn’t like or found a dollar they couldn’t spend.  Their economic plan?  You pay, they spend, your children owe.  You deserve better.  

Republican representative Eric Cantor of virginia

Speaking of your children, the deficits left in the wake of President Obama's agenda now stand at $1.5 trillion and will add $11 trillion to our national debt over the next 10 years. 

One non-partisan study reveals that to keep up with this spending, the government would have to find about half a trillion dollars each year in new revenue. That means that the tax rates on families earning slightly more than $200,000 would skyrocket to well over 70 percent.

That’s right, 70 PERCENT!

Democrats have already made clear that more tax increases on income, capital gains and dividends are on the way. Some, including the President himself, refer to this as letting the “Bush tax cuts” expire.   But no matter how he spins it, it means you’ll be paying more and more. 

At the end of this year, Americans will face the ‘Obama tax increase,’ and it will be the largest in history.  As if that wasn’t enough, others, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Obama Economic Advisor Paul Volcker support a European-style value-added tax (VAT).

Higher taxes, reckless deficits, unsustainable debt and a bleak future for our kids and grandkids.  We must not leave our children a country more in debt and worse off than we found it.   It is our moral obligation to act now to put a stop to this.

America is at a critical point of decision making.  We are a nation at a crossroads. It is up to each of us to determine what kind of country we want to be.

Down one path is the Democrats’ a trillion dollar health care overhaul, a stimulus law that failed to meet expectations for job creation, the taxpayer funded bailouts of private companies, and a cap-and-trade policy that will impose a massive energy tax upon all Americans. 

All are costly policies that seize more control over the economy and of our lives.   The goal?  To remake America in the image of Europe.

But take hope. Down the other path is responsible, adult leadership, focused firmly on job creation and economic opportunity.  We believe in a Congress that will once again listen to the people and return America to the country they know and love. 

We believe in a limited but effective government that provides a safety net for those who need it most, but sets no limits on opportunity or achievement.  We believe that it’s not enough just to talk about ending government waste. 

You have to take action so that we can begin to erase our deficits and free our children from our debt.  And rather than putting the squeeze on our nation’s job creators and entrepreneurs, we believe in a pro-growth strategy to create jobs and empower the American entrepreneur and small business people to thrive.  
This is our choice.

I’m Eric Cantor, and on behalf of my Republican colleagues, please know that we hear your concerns and we’ll work hard to get Washington working for you once again. Thank you.    ####

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Photos: Pete Souza / White House; Molly Riley / Reuters; Office of Rep. Cantor.

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