December 14th, 2009
09:13 PM ET

Evening Buzz: Pres. Obama Presses Big Banks

Maureen Miller
AC360° Writer

President Obama is urging America's bailed out banks to step up and help restore the economy. He met with bank executives at the White House today and urged them to provide more loans to small-business owners.

"My main message in today's meeting was simple: America's banks received extraordinary assistance from American taxpayers to rebuild their industry. And now that they are back on their feet, we expect an extraordinary commitment from them to help rebuild our economy," Obama said.

That comment was a lot more muted than what the president said last night on CBS' 60 Minutes when he blasted the banking industry. "I did not run for office to be helping out a bunch of, you know, fat-cat bankers on Wall Street," Obama said last night.

Tonight on 360°, we're tracking the dollars and keeping them honest. Are bankers doing enough to revive the U.S. economy? Or are they looking only for only their bottom-line? Share your thoughts below.

Here's a cash reality check: Since last year, more than $450 billion bailout dollars - your tax dollars - have been given to banks. Over the same time period, banks have slashed lending to businesses by about 15 percent. CNN Money estimates JP Morgan Chase, Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs alone will give nearly $30 billion in bonuses. Plus, America's banks have spent more than $36 million lobbying against financial reform this year.

"I should note that around the table all the financial industry executives said they supported financial regulatory reform, " Obama said today. "The problem is there's a big gap between what I'm hearing at the White House and the activities of lobbyists on behalf of these institutions or associations of which they're a member up on Capitol Hill," he added.

After today's White House meeting only three of the ten bankers in attendance talked to the media. One of them was Richard Davis, CEO of US Bancorp who agreed there is a "disconnect" between what bankers are saying and what the lobbyists are doing on Capitol Hill. "We're going to do a better job," he said.

Davis also addressed the concern that banks aren't doing enough lending.

"You don't want us to make loans that are not strong and well suited for the consumer or the small business. So we agree viscerally that more lending needs to be done, we're looking for those opportunities to make sure that we don't put people in harm's way, and we don't put banks back in harm's way."

Tonight we also have a 360° follow on the videotaped beating death of a Chicago high school student back in September. You may recall, Derrion Albert was killed in a brawl that involved about 50 students. The attack shocked the nation.

You'll hear from the brother of one of the four teens charged in the killing of Derrion.

CNN's TJ Holmes talked with Vashion Bullock, who was also part of the fight, right in the middle of the melee.

TJ asked Vashion if anyone should be held accountable for the death.

"No, not accountable for the whole thing, because it was a mistake. Ain't nobody want him to die, ain't nobody meant for him to die", Bullock said.

The way Bullock sees it fighting is about "survival."

Join us for these stories and much more starting at 10 p.m. ET on CNN. See you then!

Filed under: Maureen Miller • The Buzz
soundoff (12 Responses)
  1. Samuel

    Well thats gratitude for you. We bail out the big banks of the economy by giving them, god only knows how many billions of dollars, and now they turn up their noses at us and tell us to get lost. wow. With all the defecit that we have in this country, all we need now is for a few billion dollars to go to waste. Did the banks ever consider how selfish they are by not jumping to their feet and putting aid right then and there? The irony of the whole thing is that they are banks, surely they should know the meaning of debtsw?

    December 15, 2009 at 12:27 am |
  2. Myrna Shreve

    Merely asking banks to reciprocate is not enough. Legislation should be passed whereby banks will now and in the future have their legislative regulations tied in with the state of the economy. For instance, banks making large profits while the economy is doing poorly, should find themselves subject to high taxation on their profits. One way to do this would be to tax the banks strongly while unemployment rates are high, and to relax taxation when the economy is doing well. This would be a 'direct incentive' policy. Also legislation should place caps upon bonuses; perhaps bonuses should also be tied to high employment in living wage jobs. Bad state of the economy = no bonuses!

    December 15, 2009 at 12:05 am |
  3. gavpat

    I did vote for Obama but let's look at simple economics. If you had $100 would let it to a struggling business right now? Probably not.

    I just refinanced my personal mortage at 4.9 in a couple weeks with no problems what so ever. If you've been smart, getting access to personal capital is non issue but from a business perspecitve that is very different story in this very uncertain world.
    How can a bank lend money to business that has NO IDEA WHAT THEIR HEATLHCARE cost will be?

    December 14, 2009 at 11:29 pm |
  4. Jim Wright

    The best thing Congress could ever do for consumers is to set a maximumn credit rate of 10% on all credit cards; and this should be inclusive of all fees and penalties. If Congress can't do this we'll know they're working for them and not us.

    December 14, 2009 at 11:25 pm |
  5. Greg

    I'm getting tired of the run around from the banks. They always say that they lose our paper work and then we can not qualify for a remodification loan because we are on time with our payments. These guys are getting fat off our blood and sweat.

    December 14, 2009 at 11:18 pm |
  6. Jim Wright

    Went to Bank of America to refinance my $200,000 home loan down a point to 4.6% or so. I have excellent credit. First off the "no point" loan is more like 5.6% so I'd need $10,000 plus to pay the points for their advertised rate plus finance charges. Not worth it!

    December 14, 2009 at 11:18 pm |
  7. Tyler

    Obama has been trying hard, but not doing so well. I feel that he is doing a good thing by making the banks pay back bail-out money before they give big bonuses.

    December 14, 2009 at 11:16 pm |
  8. Patricia

    The credit unions have money to lend. The banks have made their bed. If Congress would lift the business lending cap on credit unions, the money would be there for businesses to borrow. Take a look at that option instead of relying on the "for profit" money hungry banks. They don't care about the consumer, credit unions do.

    December 14, 2009 at 11:11 pm |
  9. Cecil

    Washington politicans pushed the envelope for years to promote the easy lending of money in the housing market and then when the bubble burst, everyone is blamed except our elected officials. We desperately need term limits in Congress and age limits for the Federal courts.

    December 14, 2009 at 10:45 pm |
  10. Larry

    Didn't he campaign on restoring the economy?

    December 14, 2009 at 10:10 pm |
  11. Annie Kate

    Seems like Obama is always looking for someone else to get us out of the recession – on the bankers I doubt he will see much effort on their part to help the rest of us economically. The fat cats don't care as long as their wallets get fatter. Anymore, you just about have to be financially well off enough to not need the loan – how does that help anyone? If we have to be dependent on the banks to help us out of this economic misery then we are in for a lot of years of lean pickings.

    December 14, 2009 at 9:56 pm |
  12. Cindy

    Obama is all talk and no do on this whole bank bail out mess. He may talk a good game but when it comes to laying down the law and actually enforcing it he can never go all the way. So I doubt anything will come of his little speech that he gave calling them out as fat cats and such. It was just for looks.


    December 14, 2009 at 9:23 pm |