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The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release

Remarks by the President before Meeting with Bipartisan Congressional Leadership to Discuss Financial Reform

10:53 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  All right.  Hello, everybody.  I want to welcome congressional leaders to one of our periodic meetings where, obviously, it’s the beginning of a lengthy work period coming off a very tough work period.

One of the things that we’re going to be talking about is the economy.  I'm going to be presenting to them the latest report from the Council of Economic Advisers on the impact of the Recovery Act.  What we’re seeing I think is some significant improvement in the economy and stabilization.  But, obviously, everybody here -- Republican and Democrat -- recognizes we’ve still got work to do; that there are too many people who are still unemployed, the housing market is still very soft, too many small businesses who aren’t getting credit.  And so we’re going to spend some time exploring how can we build on the progress that has been made to make sure that ordinary Americans are seeing improvements in their own lives.

I'm also going to be interested in talking to them about our ability to move quickly on a financial regulatory reform package.  I think all of us recognize that we cannot have a circumstance in which a meltdown in the financial sector once again puts the entire economy in peril, and that if there’s one lesson that we’ve learned it’s that an unfettered market where people are taking huge risks and expecting taxpayers to bail them out when things go sour is simply not acceptable.

As a consequence, I am actually confident that we can work out an effective bipartisan package that assures that we never have “too big to fail” again; that consumers are adequately protected when it comes to financial instruments -- whether it’s mortgages or credit cards or debit cards; that we have a strong mechanism to regulate derivatives, something that we have not had, a derivatives market that is in the shadow economy but is enormously powerful, enormously risky -- we want to get that into daylight so that regulators and ordinary Americans know what’s going on when it comes to this huge segment of the financial system.

And I am confident that if we work together diligently over the next several weeks that we can come up with a package that serves the American people well and does not put Americans ever again in a position where they’re having to choose between a terrible economic situation or rewarding people for failed policies and bad risk-taking.  And so that's going to be a top priority of this meeting.

Finally, we’ve got a range of issues -- from a Supreme Court vacancy, a START treaty that I believe needs to be ratified, a host of other issues related to appointments -- that we’re going to talk about and I'm going to be also obviously listening to congressional leaders about their priorities over the next several months.

So I very much appreciate them taking the time to come and I'm hopeful that this will not only be a productive meeting, but we will see a productive session over the next several weeks.

All right.  Thank you, everyone.

Q    Is the bailout bill -- is this a bailout bill as Senator McConnell says?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, I am absolutely confident that the bill that emerges is going to be a bill that prevents bailouts.  That's the goal.  All right.

10:57 A.M. EDT