NEW YORK, Sept. 14 (UPI) -- U.S. President Barack Obama urged financial firms Monday to "embrace" regulatory reforms proposed by his administration, saying they owe a debt to taxpayers.
Reminding financiers that middle-class families are bearing the burden of financial institution bailouts, Obama, speaking at the Freedom Hall National Memorial on New York's Wall Street, called on bankers "to embrace serious financial reform, not fight it," and to not "shirk your obligation to the goal of wider recovery" by returning to excessive risk-taking.
"I want to urge you to demonstrate that you take this obligation to heart," the president said. "To put greater effort into helping families who need their mortgages modified under my administration's home ownership plan. To help small business owners who desperately need loans and who are bearing the brunt of the decline in available credit."
Even though "we can be confident that the storms of the past two years are beginning to break," Obama warned Wall Street that "the old ways that led to this crisis cannot stand," adding, "History cannot be allowed to repeat itself."
Obama predicted that his proposed financial regulations will become law, and urged Wall Street to get on board by supporting a new consumer protection agency and beefed-up securities regulation meant to keep pace with quickly changing market innovations.
His speech came on the one-year anniversary of the demise of Lehman Brothers, which pushed an already struggling economy further toward recession.