President Obama celebrated one of his top legislative victories today, signing into law a major overhaul of financial regulations that he promised would shine light on "shadowy deals" on Wall Street and "put a stop to taxpayer bailouts once and for all."
Flanked by many of the lawmakers who pushed the bill through over what he called "the furious lobbying of an array of powerful interest groups and a partisan minority determined to block change," the president said the new law includes "the strongest consumer financial protections in history."
Vikram Pandit of Citigroup was one of the few representatives from Wall Street at the signing, which took place at the Ronald Reagan Building, while members of consumer groups were far more prominent. Also in attendance was Elizabeth Warren, the Harvard professor heavily favored by liberal activists to head the consumer financial protection agency created by the bill.
Warren, who would face stiff opposition from Republicans in the Senate, praised the new law as "the strongest set of financial reforms in three generations." She called the consumer agency "a tough, independent cop in Washington to help clear out the tricks and traps hidden in consumer credit agreements."
But business groups remain wary of the law.
Thomas Donohue, president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, warned of all the new regulations to come as well as "unintended consequences that create more uncertainty for American businesses."
Republicans remain unwavering in their opposition to the measure, with many issuing immediate calls for repeal. House Minority Leader Boehner dismissed it as "another big-government overreach that will make it harder to create new jobs."
This article appears in the July 24, 2010, edition of National Journal Daily.