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Obama: I Didn't Run For Office To Help 'Fat Cat Bankers'


(L-R) Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein, American Express CEO Ken Chenault, Bank of America CEO Ken Lewis and American Bankers Association CEO Edward Yingling outside the White House in March. US President Barack Obama has hit out at Wall Street "fat cats," expressing anger that bailed out banks are planning huge bonuses as millions battle poverty and unemployment. (AFP/File/Nicholas Kamm)

President Obama takes aim at "fat cat bankers" and their aggressive
lobbying efforts to defeat financial reform in an upcoming 60 Minutes
interview set to air Sunday evening.

"I did not run for office to be helping out a bunch of fat cat bankers on Wall Street," Obama tells 60 Minutes'
Steve Kroft. "What's really frustrating me right now is that you've got
these same banks who benefited from taxpayer assistance who are
fighting tooth and nail with their lobbyists ...up on Capitol Hill,
fighting against financial regulatory control."

Efforts by the banking industry to avoid reform may have paid off (financial-services interests spent $344 million on lobbying in the first three quarters of 2009). While the version of the major financial reform bill passed by the House on Friday
does create a consumer financial protection agency and limits on
derivatives trading, some say that it also includes loopholes. The bill
does not include measures that would break up big banks or address the
mixing of commercial and investment banking by giant firms like
JPMorgan Chase and Goldman Sachs.

President Obama cheered the House action Friday. "This legislation
brings us another important step closer to necessary, comprehensive
financial reform that will create clear rules of the road, consistent
and systematic enforcement of those rules, and a stronger, more stable
financial system..." he said in a statement.

On the topic of executive pay, Kroft asks Obama if he thinks that
bailed out banks repayed TARP money just to avoid government oversight
on compensation and pay. "I think that in some cases, [to be able to
pay bonuses] was the motivation," Obama responds. "Which I think tells
me that the people on Wall Street still don't get it...They're still
puzzled why it is that people are mad at the banks. Well, let's see.
You guys are drawing down 10, 20 million dollar bonuses after America
went through the worst economic decades and you guys caused
the problem,"

Kroft also questions Obama about the nation's new strategy in
Afghanistan. The president weighs in on the timetable of a withdrawal
and acknowledges that the U.S. needs more help from Pakistan.

The full interview is set to air Sunday, Dec. 13, at 7 p.m. ET/PT on CBS.

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