Obama slams Wall Street ways but asks for support

(AP) - President Barack Obama rebuked Wall Street for risky practices yesterday even as he sought its leaders' help for "updated, commonsense" regulations to head off any new financial crisis.

"Ultimately there is no dividing line between Main Street andWall Street. We rise or we fall together as one nation. So I urgeyou to join me," Obama said in a high-stakes speech near thenation's financial hub.

The president acknowledged differences of opinion over how tobest protect bailout-weary taxpayers but denounced criticism fromsome Republicans who claim a Democratic-sponsored bill headed forSenate action would encourage rather than discourage futurebailouts of huge banks.

"That may make for a good sound bite, but it's not factuallyaccurate," Obama said. He said the overhaul legislation would"put a stop to taxpayer-funded bailouts."

Obama's speech came at a delicate time in negotiations over theSenate measure, which could be debated next week. The House haspassed its own version of financial overhaul legislation. Obama didnot say which one he favored but told an audience that includeddozens of financial leaders "both bills represent significantimprovement on the flawed rules we have in place today."

He portrayed his appearance at Cooper Union college, in lowerManhattan, as a reprise of a campaign speech he gave at the samelocation in March 2008 to offer an agenda for financial regulatoryreform.

"Since I last spoke here two years ago, our country has beenthrough a terrible trial," he said, pointing to the loss of morethan 8 million jobs, the losing of "countless small businesses,"trillions of dollars in lost savings and people forced to put offretirement or postpone college.

"I take no satisfaction in noting that my comments have largelybeen borne out by the events that followed," Obama said.

Obama said that today, the economy is recovering in what hecalled "the fastest turnaround in growth in nearly threedecades."

Taking his argument for stronger oversight of the financialindustry to the city where the economic meltdown began, Obama saidit was "essential that we learn the lessons of this crisis, so wedon't doom ourselves to repeat it. And make no mistake, that isexactly what will happen if we allow this moment to pass."

Obama's speech was an effort to ramp up pressure on Congress forlegislation imposing new financial regulations.

He also used it to take the financial industry to task.

To see the president's speech, go to Channel 612 on your iO digital cable box and select iO Extra.

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