Politics

Obama Urges Wall Street to Join Him in Regulatory Reform Effort

President Obama had some tough love for Wall Street Tuesday in New York City, after his administration was criticized for taking too much money from the financial sector. 

In a speech at a Democratic fundraiser, the president pressed the financial industry, some of whose members were in attendance, to work with Washington to pass regulatory reform. 

"Join us. This is important for our country. And in the long run, it will be good for the financial industry to have a level playing field in which everybody knows the rules and everybody knows that the rules will be enforced," Obama said.

Obama was in New York for a series of fundraisers, but reports late last week that his administration seemed cozy with Wall Street, even while decrying its excesses, drew focus to the event. 

"While I'm in New York, I want to stress something about this financial reform effort. The finance industry is essential to a healthy economy and to the well-being of our economy. That is why we stepped in to prevent a collapse that would have had far reaching and devastating consequences for the American people," Obama said. "Steps, by the way, that were not wildly popular and still aren't among the American people, but it was the right thing to do. But we also know we should never again have to face potential calamity because of the reckless speculation and deceptive practices and short-sightedness and self-interested-ness from a few." 

It's a pattern the president has been repeating lately, taking to the stage at a fundraiser or political event for Democrats and using his speech as a way to highlight his administration's efforts. In New Jersey over the summer at a rally for Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine, Obama stressed health care reform. Last week in San Francisco, he reminded the party faithful they all need to be involved in getting such efforts passed. Tuesday night, he focused on financial reform. 

Obama spoke at two events in New York Tuesday night. The first was in support of New York congressional candidate Bill Owens, who is running in a special election for the 23rd Congressional District seat -- formerly held by John McHugh, now secretary of the Army. 

The second event, where he spoke about regulatory reform, was delivered to the Democratic National Convention fundraiser at the Hammerstein Ballroom. According to sources, about 2,700 people attended and tickets started at $100. 

The president will continue to campaign for candidates later this week with a stop in Boston, Mass., on Friday in support of Democratic Gov. Patrick Duval and then in Stamford, Conn., where Obama will speak in support of Democratic Sen. Chris Dodd.