Financial Regulatory Forum

Obama proposes U.S. bank fee, slams Wall Street

By Caren Bohan and Alister Bull

WASHINGTON, Jan 14 (Reuters) – U.S. President Barack Obama on Thursday proposed Wall Street banks pay up to $117 billion to reimburse taxpayers for the financial bailout, as he slammed bankers for their “massive profits and obscene bonuses.”

Striking a populist tone, Obama called for a fee on the biggest U.S banks to “recover every single dime” the government spent rescuing the financial sector from its worst crisis since the Great Depression.

“My determination to achieve this goal is only heightened when I see reports of massive profits and obscene bonuses at some of the very firms who owe their continued existence to the American people,” Obama said, reflecting increasingly harsh rhetoric toward the financial industry.

The White House hopes a tougher line with Wall Street will resonate with an American public furious at multimillion dollar bonuses being handed out by banks as the middle-class struggles with double-digit unemployment.

The fee, which Obama will formally propose in his fiscal year 2011 budget to be released in February, is also aimed at helping to reduce the ballooning U.S. budget deficit.

Obama to propose bank fees to recoup bailout funds

By Alister Bull

WASHINGTON, Jan 14 (Reuters) – President Barack Obama on Thursday will propose major U.S. financial firms pay a fee to protect taxpayers from up to $117 billion in losses on a bank bailout that has spurred fury at Wall Street excess.

Obama, whose action comes amid mounting public anger over multi-million dollar bank bonuses while ordinary Americans struggle in the face of 10 percent unemployment, will announce the plan at 11:50 a.m. (1650 GMT), a senior administration official said.

“The fee that is put forward here is in many ways a minimum — a minimum of what is owed back for the rather significant costs that are borne in many aspects by the taxpayers,” the administration official told reporters.