POTUS on GOP Filibuster: "That's Not Right!"

OTTUMWA, IOWA – President Obama criticized Senate Republicans for again voting to block efforts to proceed to a debate over legislation that would reform Wall Street, saying their opposition just is “not right.”

“For the second time in 24 hours, Senate Republicans unanimously blocked efforts to debate the bill,” the president said to a crowd of roughly 2,000 packed into the gymnasium at Indian Hills Community College. “I’m not even asking them to vote for the bill. I just want to let them debate it. “

Mr. Obama told the crowd that Republicans “won’t even let it get on the floor to be debated. It’s one thing to oppose reform, but to oppose just talking about reform in front of the American people -- to have legitimate debate -- that’s not right.”

The president said “we are engaged in a debate for Wall Street reform that protects consumers, holds firms accountable, and puts an end to taxpayer bailouts once and for all.”

Senate Republicans – and some liberal observers as well – have argued that the Democrats’ legislation wouldn’t put an end to taxpayer bailouts. They point to the $50 billion fund in the Senate Democrats’ bill, to be used for the purposes of liquidating failing financial firms, combined with new federal powers that would enable federal officials to borrow funds for the Treasury Department, and say those provisions essentially amount to future “taxpayer bailouts” since taxpayers could end up paying for failing firms and thus still encouraging risky behavior by banks.

But the president pressed the case for legislation, saying today that “it’s precisely because we didn’t have common sense rules on Wall street that these firms could take these huge risks, irresponsible risks that hurt every sector of the economy, as far away as Ottumwa you were impacted by what they doing. People on Wall Street somehow forgot that behind every dollar traded, or leverages, or some derivative created, people here on Main Street people were just looking to buy a house, save for college, open up a business, save for retirement. You can’t take irresponsible risks like that. “

The president told the crowd that they “should not have to wait one more day for some of the strongest consumer protections.”

He said he would not permit to succeed “this effort, from the industry lobbyists who want to weaken it and water it down and kill it – snuff it out stomp on it, whatever else they want to do to it. We can’t let another crisis like this happen again. We can’t have such a short memory that we let them convince us of what we don’t need to change the status quo on Wall Street.”

The president seemed to be in an unusually jovial mood, calling on a young basketball player in the audience and saying, “if your question is ‘Can I beat you in HORSE?’ the answer is yes.”

-jpt with Sunlen Miller

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