Fresh from his victory on landmark healthcare legislation, US President Barack Obama is ready to take on Wall Street. In the same week Obama signed into law his sweeping healthcare plan, his administration began a publicity blitz to sell his proposal to reshape the financial regulatory system.
Obama held a session on Wednesday with two Democrats, Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd and House of Representatives Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank, who are leading the effort to pass the plan in Congress.
Democrats hope the healthcare win will lend momentum to the push on financial reform.
“The good news is that, whereas the Republicans managed to convince a lot of Americans that the healthcare bill was bad for them, I think they will have a harder time with financial reform,” said Princeton University professor Alan Blinder. “Everybody hates Wall Street and the banks right now.”
The White House has sought to tap into public fury over Wall Street’s excesses to push its case for financial reform.
Carroll Doherty, an associate director at the Pew Research Centre, said that anger at big financial companies cuts across party lines.
Obama, who last year lashed out at the big bonuses of “fat cat” bankers, devoted his Saturday radio and Internet address to financial regulation.
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and other officials have fanned out to hammer the message that a crackdown on Wall Street is needed to prevent another financial meltdown.
The financial regulation bill moved into a critical phase on Monday after Dodd’s committee approved it on a Democratic party-line vote, clearing the way for the full Senate to take it up.
Obama’s healthcare win seemed to give an initial boost to the financial reform effort. The White House insists it is committed to a robust bill.