Obama urges regulatory reform in economic revitalization speech

[JURIST] US President Barack Obama [official profile] urged sweeping reform of the American financial regulatory system in a speech [text] on his economic revitalization plan to a joint session of Congress Tuesday night. His address, which came less than a week after he signed into law [JURIST report] the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) [materials], focused on job creation, tax cuts, and funding for education and public works. Obama asked Congress:

...to join me in doing whatever proves necessary. Because we cannot consign our nation to an open-ended recession, and to ensure that a crisis of this magnitude never happens again, I ask Congress to move quickly on legislation that will finally reform our outdated regulatory system. It is time to put in place tough, new common-sense rules of the road so that our financial market rewards drive and innovation, and punishes short-cuts and abuse.
Obama also outlined an aggressive plan to restart consumer lending and free up the troubled credit markets, and outlined the creation of a special fund to make more consumer, auto, and student loans available to the public.

The ARRA, intended to stimulate and grow the US economy, came under Congressional scrutiny in the US Senate earlier this month with the amendment of its "Buy American" clause [JURIST report] requiring that all goods used in construction projects, particularly iron and steel, must be manufactured in the US in order to receive stimulus funding. The provision was revised to clarify that the law will be applied consistently with US obligations under international trade agreements. Many countries, including Canada, were pleased [Reuters report] with the Senate's move to define the provision, but international industry groups like the European steel confederation Eurofer [official website] believe they did not go far enough [press release] to resolve global concerns [JURIST report] about protectionism. Obama has already distanced himself from the "Buy American" provision, saying in an interview [transcript] earlier this month, "That is a potential source of trade wars that we can't afford at a time when trade is sinking all across the globe."

 

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