Obama Puts the Heat on Banks in Allentown Appearance

Posted December 4, 2009 at 12:36pm

President Barack Obama on Friday vowed to press banks to open up lending to small businesses, suggesting the nation’s financial institutions have an obligation to repay their debt to society after the government bailed them out.“You have a responsibility now that we’ve helped you out of the brink, to give Main Street loans,— Obama said he will tell industry officials at a meeting he hopes to convene before the end of the year.Obama, who spoke during a town hall appearance in Allentown, Pa., pointed to the rise in bonus payments in the industry as banks have regained their financial footing. “It’s like they’ve forgotten that we had to yank them out of the fire,— he said.The president predicted that financial reform legislation will be completed early next year, though he warned that bankers will lobby vigorously against it — as he said insurers and drugmakers are opposing health reform today.In answer to a question, Obama expressed some frustration with filibusters and the slow pace of action in the Senate, which is just starting to take its first stab on the floor at a health bill the president once hoped to sign by Oct. 15.“Congress moves, let’s say, deliberately,— Obama said. “These days you need 60 votes for everything [in the Senate] because of the filibuster,— he said. “It used to be it was applied rarely, but now the opposition just votes it for everything. You could be trying to pass a bill to rename a post office, and they’d say, ‘Oh, we need 60 votes for that.’—