President Obama To Make Case For Financial Overhaul Obama will push Wall Street to get behind the effort to write new rules for the financial industry. Although the measure enjoys broad public support, so far no Republican senator has been willing to back it.
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President To Make Case For Financial Overhaul

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President To Make Case For Financial Overhaul

President To Make Case For Financial Overhaul

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STEVE INSKEEP, Host:

NPR's Scott Horsley reports.

SCOTT HORSLEY: President Obama will make his case for new financial rules in New York this morning, not far from Wall Street. He'll urge the financial industry to get behind the effort. He says Washington needs to put some guardrails in place if it hopes to keep the economy from going off another cliff.

BARACK OBAMA: We have to acknowledge that the status quo has not worked. We've got to acknowledge that it hasn't worked for ordinary Americans. It hasn't worked for the economy as a whole. It's worked for a few, but not for the many.

HORSLEY: This is not a new interest for the president. He's speaking today in the same venue where he called for regulatory overhaul as a candidate more than two years ago. Mr. Obama's message has not changed much since then. He told supporters at a California fundraiser this week the invisible hand of a free market must be guided by a higher principle.

OBAMA: A free market doesn't mean you should be free to do whatever you want...

(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING)

OBAMA: ...however you can get it, without regard to consequences. There have to be some rules of the road. There's got to be some accountability. There's got to be some transparency, or else we're going to see more abuses and disastrous meltdowns like the one we just experienced.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

HORSLEY: This is one battle where the president enjoys broad public support. Pollster Andy Kohut of the Pew Research Center says despite growing opposition to government intervention in the economy generally, more than six in 10 Americans want to see more regulation of the financial industry.

ANDY KOHUT: There's an anti-government sentiment, but there's also anti-big business and anti-Wall Street sentiment all tied together in sort of a populist opinion. And this is what they're tapping into.

HORSLEY: Congressional analyst Sarah Binder of the Brookings Institution thinks Democrats will push for the vote with or without that GOP backing.

SARAH BINDER: Either they'll go for a bill or they'll go for an issue. I think deep down they prefer a bill. But they seem not too unhappy about the prospects that perhaps it will blow up, because then they get a campaign issue.

HORSLEY: Unidentified Man: For years, Republican stood by while Wall Street ran wild: risky bets, lax regulations. When the economy collapsed, Republicans looked the other way.

(SOUNDBITE OF AD)

HORSLEY: Norm Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute says Republicans have grown concerned in recent days that simply blocking the bill will make them appear to be siding with unpopular Wall Street bankers.

NORM ORNSTEIN: This has definitely been the first issue in a long time where Republicans found that their rhetoric about socialism or bailouts wasn't working, and they were put on the defensive.

HORSLEY: Scott Horsley, NPR News, Washington.

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