Obama to urge tougher rules for Wall Street

* Seeks to tap into widespread anger at financial sector

* White House increasingly optimistic on reform bill

* Venue for speech is historic hall at Cooper Union

By Caren Bohan

WASHINGTON, April 22 (BestGrowthStock) – President Barack Obama
will urge sweeping new rules for Wall Street on Thursday in a
speech in New York that will seek to build on growing momentum
for legislation to overhaul the U.S. regulatory structure.

Tapping into widespread public anger at Wall Street over
the economic fallout from the 2008-2009 financial crisis, Obama
will call on big banks to get behind a Democratic package of
reforms that appears headed for a Senate vote next week.

He will attempt to put pressure on Republicans to support
the bill amid signs their opposition to it has softened.

“Financial reform is something that is borne out of an
economic collapse that started on Wall Street and spread to
Main Street America very quickly,” White House spokesman Robert
Gibbs said.

“The president will remind the American people and the
Senate what we all have at stake as we move forward, and
hopefully get something passed out of the Senate and quickly to
his desk,” Gibbs added.

Whether the bill passes or not, Democrats view financial
reform as an issue that will help them in the November
congressional elections. The legislation appears to have gotten
a boost from the recent fraud charges brought against Wall
Street powerhouse Goldman Sachs.

Obama will deliver his speech at the historic Great Hall at
Cooper Union college in downtown Manhattan, the venue for
several important addresses by leading Americans, including
Abraham Lincoln who argued there against the expansion of
slavery in a speech that helped assure his presidential
victory.

Obama spoke at Cooper Union in March 2008 in a campaign
speech in which he outlined principles for financial reform.

On Thursday, he will address an audience of about 700
people, including financial industry leaders, members of the
President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board, local officials
and Cooper Union students and faculty.

OVERSIGHT TO HEDGE FUNDS

Obama will tell Wall Street to “join him in the effort to
reform the financial system — not fight it” and urge lawmakers
to pass the Senate bill, a White House official said.

The 1,336-page bill authored by Senate Banking Committee
Chairman Christopher Dodd would bring new oversight to hedge
funds and derivatives while cracking down on risky bank trading
and putting in place protections for consumers of financial
products.

It would also establish a system for unwinding troubled
financial firms to prevent a repeat of catastrophes such as the
collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008 and the near-failure of
insurance giant AIG (AIG.N: ).

Democrats hold a 59-41 vote majority over Republicans in
the Senate, leaving them one vote short of the number needed to
overcome procedural hurdles to the bill’s passage.

Obama therefore needs at least one Republican vote. The
White House has signaled increasing optimism about garnering
Republican support and is targeting several moderate Republican
senators, including Scott Brown of Massachusetts and Susan
Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine.

The House of Representatives approved a bill in December
that called for the most sweeping regulatory changes since the
Great Depression of the 1930s. The House bill embraced most of
a comprehensive package of financial reform proposals
introduced by Obama in mid-2009.

The Senate version would have to be reconciled in joint
committee with the House before it goes to Obama for his
signature and becomes law.

Few, if any, chief executives of the big U.S. banks will be
in the Cooper Union audience.

JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM.N: ) executives, including Chief
Risk Officer Barry Zubrow, will attend Obama’s speech, but
Chief Executive Jamie Dimon is speaking in Chicago, a spokesman
said.

Morgan Stanley (MS.N: ) (Read more about the money market today. ) said that its chief financial officer
Ruth Porat and its chief operating officer Thomas Nides are
expected to go to the speech but there are no plans for chief
executive James Gorman or Chairman John Mack to attend. Bank of
America (BAC.N: ) said that chief risk officer Bruce Thompson
will be there but chief executive Brian Moynihan won’t attend
because of a long-standing scheduling conflict.

Goldman Sachs (GS.N: ) didn’t immediately respond to emails
seeking comment, Citigroup (C.N: ) declined to comment and an
official at Wells Fargo & Co. (WFC.N: ) said they are not aware
of anyone from the bank attending.

Investing Analysis

(Editing by Philip Barbara)

Obama to urge tougher rules for Wall Street