President signs overhaul of financial regulations into law
WASHINGTON — Reveling in victory, President Obama signed into law yesterday a comprehensive overhaul of financial regulations, a package that aims to protect consumers and ensure economic stability from Main Street to Wall Street.
The law, pushed through mainly by Democrats in Washington’s deeply partisan environment, comes almost two years after the infamous near financial meltdown in 2008 in the United States that was felt around the globe. The legislation gives the government new powers to break up companies that threaten the economy, creates a bureau to guard consumers, and puts more light on the financial markets that had escaped the oversight of regulators.
Obama described them all as common-sense reforms that will help people in their daily life — signing contracts, understanding fees, being aware of risks.
He went so far as to call the measures “the strongest consumer protections in history.’’ The president added to a burst of applause: “Because of this law, the American people will never again be asked to foot the bill for Wall Street’s mistakes.’’
Most Republicans portray the bill as a burden on small banks and the businesses that rely on them and argue it will cost consumers and impede job growth. Republican Representative Darrell Issa of California called Obama’s bill-signing a “charade’’ that ignored the root causes of the financial crisis.
The president said otherwise. He argued that a crippling recession was primarily caused by a breakdown in the financial system that cannot happen again.
“I proposed a set of reforms to empower consumers and investors, to bring the shadowy deals that caused this crisis into the light of day, and to put a stop to taxpayer bailouts once and for all,’’ Obama said to supporters. “Today, thanks to a lot of people in this room, those reforms will become the law of the land.’’
In a note of irony, Obama signed the bill with great fanfare in the massive Ronald Reagan Building; Reagan championed deregulation.
The president was joined by scores of consumer advocates, state and local government officials, business owners and executives, and members of Congress who supported the bill. Massachusetts GOP Senator Scott Brown, a key supporter of the legislation, was invited to the ceremony but did not attend.