Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Statements on Signing of Wall Street Reform Bill

various statements from the inbox:

Rep. Patrick Murphy:

“Today’s signing of Wall Street Reform sends a message to Big Banks that it’s no longer business as usual. American families have been put through the wringer. Years without accountability for Wall Street and Big Banks cost us 8 million jobs. Families have seen their 401(k)s devastated and college savings accounts evaporate.

The new law puts in place commonsense rules to ensure that Wall Street can never again play Russian Roulette with our futures. It reins in Big Banks and their outrageous bonuses, puts an end to bailouts, and protects and empowers consumers to make the best decisions on homes, credit cards, and their own financial future.

These reforms – the most significant since the Great Depression – provide transparency within our financial system to ensure that our economy is never again held hostage by recklessness on Wall Street.”

Dr. Manan Trivedi, Democratic candidate for the 6th congressional district
"Small business owners and hard-working families across the 6th district have all told me the same thing: that to spur small business growth and reboot our economy, simpler, more readily-understandable banking practices have to be in place.

“Well, this afternoon, the president signed into law common-sense financial reforms that will do just that, reforms that will see to it that Wall Street never again brings us to the brink of collapse -- by requiring clear rules and practices, protecting consumers, and holding banks accountable.

“If banks clarify their financial procedures, we can bring the fine print into focus and ensure that average, hard-working Pennsylvanians do not unknowingly sign themselves up for hidden fees, skyrocketing rates, or loans they simply cannot handle. By making Wall Street responsible for their own actions, we can stop financial institutions from backing the government into a corner and prevent our taxpayers from facing the necessity of a bailout ever again. And, when fiscal certainty and stability is finally restored to the markets, banks can once again open the channels to the lending that fuels entrepreneurship, innovation, and small business growth.

“While Jim Gerlach would rather side with the Wall Street donors that prop up his campaign and continue to dismantle essential regulatory practices, I understand that these reforms are a major win for my neighbors and will help to protect their futures. With these practical Wall Street reforms, we can increase the security for the student taking out loans, the small business owner embarking on a start-up, and the hard-working American saving for retirement."

Manan Trivedi is the Democratic nominee for Congress in Pennsylvania's 6th Congressional District. He is a primary care physician, a former Lt. Commander in the U.S. Navy, and an Iraq War veteran from Berks County.

President Obama:
We are gathered in the heart of our nation’s capital, surrounded by memorials to leaders and citizens who served our nation in its earliest days and in its days of greatest trial. Today is such a time for America.

Over the past two years, we have faced the worst recession since the Great Depression. Eight million people lost their jobs. Tens of millions saw the value of their homes and retirement savings plummet. Countless businesses have been unable to get the loans they need and many have been forced to shut their doors. And although the economy is growing again, too many people are still feeling the pain of the downturn.

Now, while a number of factors led to such a severe recession, the primary cause was a breakdown in our financial system. It was a crisis born of a failure of responsibility from certain corners of Wall Street to the halls of power in Washington. For years, our financial sector was governed by antiquated and poorly enforced rules that allowed some to game the system and take risks that endangered the entire economy.

Unscrupulous lenders locked consumers into complex loans with hidden costs. Firms like AIG placed massive, risky bets with borrowed money. And while the rules left abuse and excess unchecked, they also left taxpayers on the hook if a big bank or financial institution ever failed.

Now, even before the crisis hit, I went to Wall Street and I called for common-sense reforms to protect consumers and our economy as a whole. And soon after taking office, 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. (Applause.) Today, thanks to a lot of people in this room, those reforms will become the law of the land.

For the last year, Chairmen Barney Frank and Chris Dodd have worked day and night -- (applause) -- Barney and Chris have worked day and night to bring about this reform. And I am profoundly grateful to them. I would be remiss if I didn't also express my appreciation to Senator Harry Reid and Speaker Nancy Pelosi for their leadership. It wouldn’t have happened without them. (Applause.)

Passing this bill was no easy task. To get there, we had to overcome the furious lobbying of an array of powerful interest groups and a partisan minority determined to block change. So the members who are here today, both on the stage and in the audience, they have done a great service in devoting so much time and expertise to this effort, to looking out for the public interests and not the special interests. (Applause.) And I also want to thank the three Republican senators who put partisanship aside -- (applause) -- judged this bill on the merits, and voted for reform. We’re grateful to them. (Applause.) And the Republican House members. (Applause.) Good to see you, Joe. (Applause.)

Now, let’s put this in perspective. The fact is, the financial industry is central to our nation’s ability to grow, to prosper, to compete and to innovate. There are a lot of banks that understand and fulfill this vital role, and there are a whole lot of bankers who want to do right -- and do right -- by their customers. This reform will help foster innovation, not hamper it. It is designed to make sure that everybody follows the same set of rules, so that firms compete on price and quality, not on tricks and not on traps.

It demands accountability and responsibility from everyone. It provides certainty to everybody, from bankers to farmers to business owners to consumers. And unless your business model depends on cutting corners or bilking your customers, you’ve got nothing to fear from reform. (Applause.)

Now, for all those Americans who are wondering what Wall Street reform means for you, here’s what you can expect. If you’ve ever applied for a credit card, a student loan, or a mortgage, you know the feeling of signing your name to pages of barely understandable fine print. What often happens as a result is that many Americans are caught by hidden fees and penalties, or saddled with loans they can’t afford.

That’s what happened to Robin Fox, hit with a massive rate increase on her credit card balance even though she paid her bills on time. That’s what happened to Andrew Giordano, who discovered hundreds of dollars in overdraft fees on his bank statement –- fees he had no idea he might face. Both are here today. Well, with this law, unfair rate hikes, like the one that hit Robin, will end for good. (Applause.) And we’ll ensure that people like Andrew aren’t unwittingly caught by overdraft fees when they sign up for a checking account. (Applause.)

With this law, we’ll crack down on abusive practices in the mortgage industry. We’ll make sure that contracts are simpler -– putting an end to many hidden penalties and fees in complex mortgages -– so folks know what they’re signing.

With this law, students who take out college loans will be provided clear and concise information about their obligations.

And with this law, ordinary investors -– like seniors and folks saving for retirement –- will be able to receive more information about the costs and risks of mutual funds and other investment products, so that they can make better financial decisions as to what will work for them.

So, all told, these reforms represent the strongest consumer financial protections in history. (Applause.) In history. And these protections will be enforced by a new consumer watchdog with just one job: looking out for people -– not big banks, not lenders, not investment houses -– looking out for people as they interact with the financial system.

And that’s not just good for consumers; that’s good for the economy. Because reform will put a stop to a lot of the bad loans that fueled a debt-based bubble. And it will mean all companies will have to seek customers by offering better products, instead of more deceptive ones.

Now, beyond the consumer protections I’ve outlined, reform will also rein in the abuse and excess that nearly brought down our financial system. It will finally bring transparency to the kinds of complex and risky transactions that helped trigger the financial crisis. Shareholders will also have a greater say on the pay of CEOs and other executives, so they can reward success instead of failure.

And finally, because of this law, the American people will never again be asked to foot the bill for Wall Street’s mistakes. (Applause.) There will be no more tax-funded bailouts -- period. (Applause.) If a large financial institution should ever fail, this reform gives us the ability to wind it down without endangering the broader economy. And there will be new rules to make clear that no firm is somehow protected because it is “too big to fail,” so we don’t have another AIG.

That's what this reform will mean. Now, it doesn’t mean our work is over. For these new rules to be effective, regulators will have to be vigilant. We may need to make adjustments along the way as our financial system adapts to these new changes and changes around the globe. No law can force anybody to be responsible; it’s still incumbent on those on Wall Street to heed the lessons of this crisis in terms of how they conduct their businesses.

The fact is every American -– from Main Street to Wall Street –- has a stake in our financial system. Wall Street banks and firms invest the capital that makes it possible for start-ups to sell new products. They provide loans to businesses to expand and to hire. They back mortgages for families purchasing a new home. That’s why we’ll all stand to gain from these reforms. We all win when investors around the world have confidence in our markets. We all win when shareholders have more power and more information. We all win when consumers are protected against abuse. And we all win when folks are rewarded based on how well they perform, not how well they evade accountability.

In the end, our financial system only works –- our market is only free –- when there are clear rules and basic safeguards that prevent abuse, that check excess, that ensure that it is more profitable to play by the rules than to game the system. And that’s what these reforms are designed to achieve -- no more, no less. Because that’s how we will ensure that our economy works for consumers, that it works for investors, that it works for financial institutions -– that it works for all of us.

This is the central lesson not only of this crisis but of our history. Ultimately, there’s no dividing line between Main Street and Wall Street. We rise or fall together as one nation. So these reforms will help lift our economy and lead all of us to a stronger, more prosperous future.

And that’s why I’m so honored to sign these reforms into law, and I’m so grateful to everybody who worked so hard to make this day possible. Thank you very much, everybody. (Applause.)

(The bill is signed.) (Applause.)

Rep. Paul Kanjorski:
Today, Congressman Paul E. Kanjorski (PA-11), Chairman of the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Capital Markets, Insurance, and Government Sponsored Enterprises, joined President Obama on stage in Washington as the President signed into law the historic Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010. For the past two years, Chairman Kanjorski has been working on this legislation which provides the most sweeping financial regulatory reforms since the Great Depression. The legislation works to end the era of “too big to fail” financial institutions and prevent future bailouts as a result of the Kanjorski amendment. The new law also reins in Wall Street, better protects American families from abusive mortgage practices, and creates a home foreclosure prevention program nationwide based on Pennsylvania’s successful initiative, among many other significant provisions.

“This is an historic day for our country and the American people. I have been working towards the creation a comprehensive Wall Street reform bill for many years now, and it was a true honor to stand with the President while this law was signed,” said Chairman Kanjorski. “This new law puts the public interest ahead of special interests by taking thoughtful and sweeping action to rein in the reckless actions of Wall Street titans so that they can no longer operate in the shadows and potentially cause harm to the American economy and, as a result, the pockets every American, as we saw in the fall of 2008. It also includes many needed reforms to better protect the financial situations of people throughout the country. I have been working on some of these reforms for years. For the last nine years, I have been working to improve the mortgage process because of mortgage abuses that I discovered in my Congressional District in the Poconos. After many years of work, it is truly a feat to see that these reforms are finally law. Too many people have suffered, particularly during the past two years, because of the irresponsible actions of Wall Street. This law works to put an end to these reckless actions and prevent such financial turmoil from happening again in the future.”

“Additionally, the inclusion of the Kanjorski amendment in the new law ensures that regulators will now have the tools they need to safeguard the U.S. economy from reckless financiers,” added Chairman Kanjorski. “My amendment enables regulators to take preemptive action to prevent financial companies from becoming ‘too big to fail,’ and therefore, ends any need for future bailouts. In the fall of 2008, we experienced some very dire circumstances because a few financial companies had become so large and interconnected that their collapse could dangerously impact the stability of the American economy, as well as, the financial situations and retirements of every American family and small business. Because of the Kanjorski amendment, we will no longer allow financial companies to pose such a risk to our economy or the American people. We have taken action that should help to better safeguard our economy for decades.”

Chairman Kanjorski wrote many key provisions included in the Wall Street reform law, in addition to the Kanjorski “too big to fail” amendment. These include provisions to better protect investors and enhance the powers of securities regulators, register and regulate hedge fund managers, reform the operations and regulation of credit rating agencies, create a Federal office focused on insurance matters, crack down on mortgage abuses, and create a national program based on Pennsylvania’s successful mortgage foreclosure prevention program.

The new Wall Street reform law includes many provisions that will specifically work to help protect American families and businesses from facing much of the financial turmoil that has resulted in the past two years. Some of these provisions include:

· Cracking down on mortgage abuses.

For nine years, Chairman Kanjorski has been working on these issues, which first came to his attention because of predatory mortgage lending problems in the Poconos. His 2004 hearing in the Poconos on this issue led to the introduction of his comprehensive bipartisan bill in 2005 to protect consumers. Those bipartisan reforms have passed the House in 2007, 2009, and 2010, and are now law.

The new law establishes broad and comprehensive protections against abusive mortgages. It requires lenders to evaluate borrowers’ abilities to repay loans. The bill also eliminates the incentives to steer borrowers into loans they cannot afford, limits total fees to no more than five percent for almost all loans, and bans many common predatory lending practices.

“Congressman Kanjorski was one of the first people in Congress to identify problems in mortgage financing and real estate. Had Congress implemented many of his ideas when they were first developed earlier this decade, many of the recent problems that we have encountered would likely have been avoided. The professional real estate appraisers of northeastern Pennsylvania, and nationwide, whose services protect lenders and borrowers, are deeply appreciative of his leadership.” -- William Stoerrle, Jr., SRA, President, Northeastern Pennsylvania Chapter of the Appraisal Institute

“Since 2004, the residents of Northeast Pennsylvania have been the victims of appraisal fraud. At that point in time, only one person listened to the outcry, and only one person recognized that appraisal fraud was the link between the malfeasance of the originating lenders, the securitization intermediaries and the developers that resulted in the disproportionate amount of foreclosures occurring in the Poconos and surrounding communities, and that the pandemic of foreclosures was spreading across the country. That person is Congressman Paul Kanjorski.” – Maureen McGrath, who lives in Monroe County and represents the National Advocacy Against Mortgage Servicing Fraud

· Helping families to stay in their homes.

Chairman Kanjorski advocated on behalf of a national program to offer emergency bridge loans to help unemployed workers with reasonable prospects for reemployment to keep their homes. This new national initiative is based on the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency’s Homeowners’ Emergency Mortgage Assistance program in Pennsylvania (HEMAP), which since 1983 has saved 43,000 homes from foreclosure by helping to cover mortgage payments until homeowners find new jobs.

“I’m a single mother of three children and have not been receiving child support. I was diagnosed with lymphoma which caused me to miss a great deal of work. As a result, I unfortunately fell behind on bills and mortgage. HEMAP helped me avoid losing my home and become current on my mortgage. Now, I have been able to go back to work, but the program helped me stay afloat during a very difficult time in my life. Without HEMAP, my children and I would have been out of a home.” -- Mary Kemps, Scranton, PA

“My husband has been out of work for over a year and he has faced serious health problems, so unfortunately, he probably will not be able to go back to work because of them. We now only have one income for the two of us, and as a result, it became more difficult to make our mortgage payments. We applied for and received a loan through HEMAP which made it possible for us to stay in our home and avoid foreclosure. Without this program we would have faced some very dire circumstances.” -- Woman from Albrightsville, PA

· Protecting consumers.

The Wall Street reform law creates a new independent watchdog, housed in the Federal Reserve, with the authority to ensure that American consumers get the clear, accurate information they need to shop for mortgages, credit cards and other financial products. This new consumer protection bureau will protect Americans from hidden fees, abusive loan terms, and deceptive practices.

· Protecting small businesses from unreasonable fees.

The new law creates new protections for small businesses because too many of them are facing out-of-control swipe fees that banks and other credit and debit card issuers charge these businesses for debit or prepaid-card purchases. As a result, small businesses stand to save billions, as debit swipe fees amount to about $20 billion a year.

· Investing in local communities.

The law provides $1 billion through the Neighborhood Stabilization Program to states and localities to combat the ugly impact on neighborhood of the foreclosure crisis -- such as falling property values and increased crime -- by rehabilitating, redeveloping, and reusing abandoned and foreclosed properties.

· Assisting people with personal financial knowledge.

The Wall Street reform law allows consumers free access to their credit score if their score negatively affects them in a financial transaction or a hiring decision. It also gives consumers access to credit score disclosures as part of an adverse action and risk-based pricing notice.

Chairman Kanjorski concluded, “While I am very proud of much of the work that I have accomplished during my time in Congress, the enactment of this Wall Street reform legislation sits at the top of the list. Today marks a day in the history books. We have planted a seed that will grow and better protect our country, our economy, and the American people for decades in the future.”

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