By Michael O'Brien - 09/19/09 10:03 AM EDT
Rejuvenating the U.S. economy will not be complete until the government enacts new rules to oversee the financial sector, President Barack Obama said Saturday in his weekly radio address.
A year after the financial crisis that launched the country into a deep recession, the president urged Congress to enact reforms that would close "gaps that permitted the kinds of reckless risk-taking and irresponsibility that led to the crisis."
Obama said the new U.S. regulations would install a "tough, common-sense rules of the road that will protect consumers from abuse, let markets function fairly and freely, and help prevent a crisis like this from ever happening again."
The president took Wall Street terms to task for working against the new regulations.
"But we cannot let politics as usual triumph so business as usual can reign. We cannot let the narrow interests of a few come before the interests of all of us," he said. "We cannot forget how close we came to the brink, and perpetuate the broken system and breakdown of responsibility that made it possible."
The Congress has taken up preliminary work on financial regulation reform proposed by the Obama administration, but work on a bill has stalled to a degree amidst debates this summer over healthcare reform and climate-change legislation.
Obama emphasized the need for the legislature to move quickly to enact a centerpiece of his plan, the Consumer Financial Protection Agency.
"Part of what led to this crisis were not just decisions made on Wall Street, but also unsustainable mortgage loans made across the country. While many folks took on more than they knew they could afford, too often folks signed contracts they didn’t fully understand offered by lenders who didn’t always tell the truth," Obama argued. "That’s why we need clear rules, clearly enforced. And that’s what this agency will do."
The president also wished a happy new year to Jewish Americans at the end of his address, saying: "So, thanks for listening and thanks for watching, and to our Jewish friends, who are celebrating Rosh Hashanah, have a happy and healthy New Year. Shanah Tovah."