President Obama went on the defensive regarding his housing and banking policies by condemning attempts to roll back the Dodd-Frank Act and hinting at possible indictments of Wall Street executives at the center of the 2008 economic meltdown.
In an interview published in Rolling Stone, the president slammed the GOP leadership in Congress and the candidates in the Republican presidential primaries for arguing that the Dodd-Frank Act is hurting the economy.
‘What is very relevant, I think, is that you have a Republican Congress, and Republican candidates for president, who have actively stated that they want to roll back the financial regulations that have been put in place,’ Obama said. ‘They want to eliminate the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which is one more example of how they have drifted off of what had traditionally been bipartisan ideas. The notion that we would roll back an agency whose sole purpose is to make sure that consumers of financial products aren't defrauded, aren't tricked, aren't duped, and that will somehow make our economy stronger – after everything we've been through, that makes absolutely no sense.’
Obama added that Republican voters do not necessarily agree with their party's leaders on this issue. ‘There are a lot of Republican voters out there who are frustrated with Wall Street and think that they acted irresponsibly and should be held to account, so they don't want to roll back regulations on Wall Street,’ he said.
Acknowledging that there have been very few indictments against the financial services executives involved in the events leading up to the 2008 crash, the president explained the problems in bringing these people to court.
‘First of all, we're a nation of laws,’ he said. ‘So in some cases, really irresponsible practices that hurt a lot of people might not have been technically against the law. They might have been the wrong thing to do, but prosecutors are required to actually build cases based on what the law is.’
Obama added that his administration is still pursuing the matter. ‘We've set up a task force not just with the federal government, but with state attorney generals, that as we speak are actively going through all the records, issuing subpoenas,’ he said. ‘They will, on the basis of law, make determinations as to whether there are prosecutions out there. I think there's still possibilities of criminal prosecutions. But what I've instructed the attorney general to do is to follow the evidence and follow the law. That's how our system works.’