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President Talks Financial Regulation; Castle Counters With Afghanistan

President Barack Obama on Saturday used his weekly radio address to explain new fees assessed this week on financial firms, saying the action is needed to recoup the remainder of the money given to banks under the Troubled Asset Relief Program.Delaware Rep. Mike Castle, delivering the Republican response, spoke instead about the U.S. military mission in Afghanistan.Obama on Thursday proposed to charge banks $117 billion over 12 years. Though he did not mention the figure in his address, it is the amount that the administration calculates will still be owed the government from the TARP program.Obama said the measure was not intended to exact retribution on banks for their contribution to the financial crisis. “Our goal with this fee — and with the common-sense financial reforms we seek — is not to punish the financial industry,— he said. “Our goal is to prevent the abuse and excess that nearly led to its collapse.— Obama charged that suggestions the banks cannot afford the fee are “hard to believe when there are reports that Wall Street is going to hand out more money in bonuses and compensation just this year than the cost of this fee over the next 10 years.— As he has done repeatedly, Obama slammed the banks for lobbying against financial reform.“So far … they have ferociously fought financial reform,— Obama declared. “The industry has even joined forces with the opposition party to launch a massive lobbying campaign against common-sense rules to protect consumers and prevent another crisis.—“Now, like clockwork, the banks and politicians who curry their favor are already trying to stop this fee from going into effect,— he said.Meanwhile, in his radio address, Castle, who has just returned from a Congressional delegation to Afghanistan and Pakistan, lauded American troops for helping to stabilize the region. “Particularly since the surge in Afghanistan began, we have seen progress toward helping establish a country that can govern itself, defend its borders and be an important ally in fighting terrorism,— he said.But Castle cautioned that mere military might is not enough to achieve the U.S. goals in the war-torn country, pointing to the need to help restore Afghanistan’s agrarian hub. He also said U.S. intelligence forces must work harder to prevent potential attacks like the attempted bombing of a Northwest Airlines flight on Christmas Day in Detroit.

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