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Business & Technology

August 20, 2013

Obama urges regulators to enact Wall Street rules

WASHINGTON — Three years after President Barack Obama signed a sweeping overhaul of lending and high-finance rules, execution of the law is behind schedule with scores of regulations yet to be written, let alone enforced. Meeting privately with the nation’s top financial regulators on Monday, Obama prodded them to act more swiftly.

The president’s push comes as the five-year anniversary of the nation’s financial near-meltdown approaches. The law, when passed in 2010, was considered a milestone in Obama’s presidency, a robust response to the crisis that led to a massive government bailout to stabilize the financial markets.

But the slow pace of implementation has prompted administration concern that banks could still pose potentially calamitous risks to the economy and to taxpayers. Obama hoped to convey “the sense of urgency that he feels,” spokesman Josh Earnest said before the president convened the meeting with the eight independent regulators in the White House Roosevelt Room.

Lehman Brothers collapsed into bankruptcy on Sept. 15, 2008, and the administration has wanted to use that dubious milestone to look back on the lessons of the crisis and progress so far to prevent a recurrence.

In a statement at the conclusion of the meeting, the White House said Obama commended the regulators for their work “but stressed the need to expeditiously finish implementing the critical remaining portions of Wall Street reform to ensure we are able to prevent the type of financial harm that led to the Great Recession from ever happening again.”

Not everyone feels that way about the law, known as Dodd-Frank after its Democratic sponsors, Rep. Barney Frank and Sen. Christopher Dodd.

Republican House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling, an early opponent of Dodd-Frank, dismissed Obama’s meeting with the regulators, saying, “Much like Obamacare, Dodd-Frank is an incomprehensively complex piece of legislation that is harmful to our floundering economy and in dire need of repeal.”

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