President Obama went to the belly of the financial beast today to urge lawmakers to support a measure that would change the way the financial sector is regulated.
Obama, speaking as Senate leaders are in the final stages of negotiating details of legislation that the full chamber could take up next week, said that a "free market was never meant to be a free license to take whatever you can get, however you can get it."
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) announced today that the first of the procedural votes on allowing the Senate to begin debate on the bill will take place on Monday at 5:15.
During his speech, delivered at Cooper Union college about a mile from Wall Street, he said financial institutions that do business in a safe and honest manner have nothing to fear from the new rules that the bill would impose.
He added the new entity to regulate consumer financial products-which would be housed in the Federal Reserve under the Senate bill and be an independent agency under the bill passed by the House last year-will result in more competition among companies and more choices for consumers.
Obama noted that "unless your business model depends on bilking people, there is little to fear from these rules."
He gave his speech at the same venue where he outlined his views on regulatory reform during the 2008 presidential campaign. The college is also the site of President Lincoln's famous speech on Feb. 27, 1860.