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Taking a lead on financial reform

Mark Mardell | 16:12 UK time, Friday, 25 June 2010

"We lead the world in financial reform." That is the White House message to the G8 and G20 summits.

President Barack Obama has arrived in Canada with something to crow about. At the last G20, it was agreed that the world had to have new financial rules, although it would be left to individual countries to design their own laws.

After a late-night session, Republicans and Democrats agreed a framework for new rules curtailing some practices on Wall Street and giving consumers more protection.

He's had to make some sacrifices to get here: in particular there won't be greater regulation of loans by car dealers. Still, this puts the US ahead of Europe and there may be some jitters about the extent of the new laws.

But it will be a political tool for Obama. He's trying to take the initiative after a difficult few months and, on the White House lawns, before he left for Toronto, he portrayed it as yet another victory.

"Over the last 17 months, we passed an economic Recovery Act, health insurance reform, education reform, and we are now on the brink of passing Wall Street reform. And at the G20 summit this weekend, I'll work with other nations not only to co-ordinate our financial reform efforts, but to promote global economic growth while ensuring that each nation can pursue a path that is sustainable for its own public finances."

He didn't, of course, note that his latest stimulus package, worth $100bn, has bitten the dust for the third time in the Senate.

Asked if he could get financial reform through the Senate, he said "you bet". I wouldn't put any of my own money on this after the health care thrills and spills but he'll be willing to have an argument, in an election year, with Republicans he can portray as sticking up for Wall Street bankers against middle American consumers.

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