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 year...in 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.
Watch a clip of the interview about Afghanistan: