Today, during a periodic meeting held in the Presidential Cabinet Room, President Obama met with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-MD), and House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (D-OH) to discuss, among other things, the "ability to move quickly on a financial regulatory reform package."
President Obama has consistently sought "essential" reforms to address "the abuse and excess that led to the worst financial crisis in generations." White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs indicated that discussions between President Obama and the Congressional leaders centered on several significant financial regulatory reform issues under debate such as ending "too big to fail" (noting in particular that President Obama "would not accept a bill that did not pass the test"), "adequately" protecting consumers when it comes to financial instruments, and the "recent effort by the financial industry to pressure the Senate to weaken oversight" of derivatives legislation. The President also "encouraged attendees to stop the campaign of misinformation being run by financial industry lobbyists and representatives of trade groups."
Following the meeting, Republican and Democratic members of Congress made public statements indicating continued conformity with previously articulated party-line positions on financial reform issues implicated in the bill under consideration in the Senate. Republicans continued to rehash their general opposition to the bill, with House Minority Leader Boehner claiming, among other things, that the bill "sets up a fund for permanent bailouts that guarantees taxpayers are going to have to keep subsidizing irresponsible behavior on Wall Street," "promises permanent bailouts for the giant 'too big to fail' companies," and is a "clear example" of how Democrats "still aren’t listening to the American people." Senate Minority Leader McConnell expanded on his Senate floor speech from yesterday, noting that the bill "doesn’t even begin to solve" the fundamental problems of "prevent[ing] the kind of crisis" experienced in the fall of 2008, or "ensur[ing] that the biggest Wall Street banks pay for their own mistakes." Senate Banking Committee Ranking Member Richard Shelby (R-AL), who was unable to successfully negotiate with Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd (D-CT) on bipartisan reform legislation, reiterated that the Democrats’ financial reform proposals "would not correct" the problem of "public subsidization of private failure," and would allow for “backdoor bailouts, expand the scope of bailouts, and institutionalize 'Too Big to Fail'.”
In sharp contrast, Senator Dodd, during a Senate floor speech today, stressed that the bill is not a "partisan effort," and continued to support the legislation as a mechanism to "end bailouts" by, among other things, limiting systemic risk though the monitoring of risks, the "imposition of tough standards" on institutions that create risks, and providing the Federal Reserve with the power to restrict certain institutions from engaging in risky activities, restricting growth, and even breaking them up. In a similar vein, Senator Reid put the ball in the court of Republicans stating that the bipartisan meeting with President Obama "represents another opportunity for Republicans to help us end this latest era of irresponsibility on Wall Street," further urging Republicans to "work with us to clean up Wall Street."