The President's Weekly Address
Hi, everybody. Five years ago, after the worst financial crisis in decades, we passed historic Wall Street reform to end the era of bailouts and too big to fail. As part that reform, we created an independent Consumer Financial Protection Bureau with one mission: to protect American consumers from some of the worst practices in the financial industry.
They've already put $5 billion back in the pockets of more than 15 million families. And this week, they took an important first step towards cracking down on some of the most abusive practices involving payday loans. Millions of Americans take out these loans every year. In Alabama, where I visited this week, there are four times as many payday lending stores as there are McDonald's. But while payday loans might seem like easy money, folks often end up trapped in a cycle of debt. If you take out a $500 loan, it's easy to wind up paying more than $1,000 in interest and fees.
The step the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau announced this week is designed to change that. The idea is pretty common sense: If you're a payday lender preparing to give a loan, you should make sure that the borrower can afford to pay it back first. As Americans, we believe there's nothing wrong with making a profit. But there is something wrong with making that profit by trapping hard-working men and women in a vicious cycle of debt.
Protecting working Americans' paychecks shouldn't be a partisan issue. But the budget Republicans unveiled last week would make it harder, not easier, to crack down on financial fraud and abuse. And this week, when Republicans rolled out their next economic idea, it had nothing to do with the middle class. It was a new, more-than-250 billion tax cut for the top one-tenth of the top one percent of Americans. That would mean handing out an average tax cut of $4 million a year to just 4,000 Americans per year and leaving the rest of the country to pay for it.
I don't think our top economic priority should be helping a tiny number of Americans who are already doing extraordinarily well and asking everybody else to foot the bill. I think our top priority should be helping everybody who works hard get ahead. This country does best when everyone gets their fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules. That's what middle class economics is all about, and as long as I'm your President, that's what I'll keep on fighting to do.
Thanks, and have a great weekend.
NOTE: The address was recorded at approximately 2:20 p.m. on March 27 in the Map Room at the White House for broadcast on March 28. The transcript was made available by the Office of the Press Secretary on March 27, but was embargoed for release until 6 a.m. on March 28.
Barack Obama, The President's Weekly Address Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/310482