Obama signs Wall St. bill into law

President Obama on Wednesday signed the Wall Street reform bill, putting another major item on his domestic agenda into law.

Obama, flanked by congressional leaders including House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank (D-Mass.) and Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), noted the bill’s supporters had to “overcome the furious lobbying of an array of powerful interest groups and a partisan minority determined to block change.”

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But Obama thanked the Republican lawmakers who voted for the bill, which he said would help prevent another economic collapse and protect consumers. 

“All told, these reforms represent the strongest consumer financial protections in history,” Obama said. “And these protections will be enforced by a new consumer watchdog with just one job: looking out for people — not big banks, not lenders, not investment houses — in the financial system.”

Others attending the ceremony included Vice President Joe Biden; Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner; Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.); Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.); Sens. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.), Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) and Jack Reed (D-R.I.); House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.); and Reps. Paul Kanjorski (D-Pa.), Collin Peterson (D-Minn.), Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), Mel Watt (D-N.C.), Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.), Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.) and Dennis Moore (D-Kan.).

The new law gives Obama and Democrats a victory for the summer work period that they hope will allow members to campaign as tireless advocates for the working class, while at the same time painting Republicans as water-carriers for Wall Street fat cats. 

While the emphasis of Obama’s remarks was on consumer protection, he also pledged that reform “will also rein in the abuse and excess that nearly brought own our financial system.”

“It will finally bring transparency to the kinds of complex, risky transactions that helped trigger the financial crisis” Obama said. “And shareholders will also have a greater say on the pay of CEOs and other executives, so that they can reward success instead of failure.”

Republicans blasted the new law, saying it would kill jobs and do nothing to prevent another financial crisis that they said was caused by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

“While President Obama pats himself on the back today, families and small businesses are bracing for yet another big-government overreach that will make it harder to create new jobs,” said House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio).  

“The legislation the president is signing today provides permanent bailouts for his Wall Street allies at the expense of community banks and small businesses around the country, while doing nothing to reform Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government mortgage companies that triggered the financial meltdown by giving too many high-risk loans to people who couldn’t afford them. 

“It’s no wonder that the overwhelming majority of Americans say the president’s plan won’t work.”