Obama's Remarks to Small Business Owners, Community Lenders, and Members of Congress - Page 2 of 6

Obama’s Remarks to Small Business Owners, Community Lenders, and Members of Congress

board after the contracts that led to these bonuses were agreed to last year.

But I think Mr. Liddy and certainly everybody involved needs to understand this is not just a matter of dollars and cents. It’s about our fundamental values. All across the country, there are people who are working hard and meeting their responsibilities every day, without the benefit of government bailouts or multi-million dollar bonuses. You’ve got a bunch of small business people here who are struggling just to keep their credit line open — that they are foregoing pay, as one of our entrepreneurs talked about, they are in some cases mortgaging their homes, and doing a whole host of things just in order to keep things afloat. All they ask is that everyone, from Main Street to Wall Street to Washington, play by the same rules. And that is an ethic that we have to demand.

And what this situation also underscores is the need for overall financial regulatory reform, so we don’t find ourselves in this position again, and for some form of resolution mechanism in dealing with troubled financial institutions, so that we’ve got greater authority to protect American taxpayers and our financial system in cases such as this.

Now, we already have resolution authority — excuse me, I’m choked up with anger here — (laughter) — we always — already have some of that resolution authority when it comes to a traditional bank. But when you start getting into AIGs and some of these other operations that have a whole bunch of different financial instruments, then we don’t have all the regulatory power that we need. And this is something that I expect to work with Congress to deal with in the weeks and months to come.

Well, we’re here today to talk about how my administration can help the millions of small businesses bearing the brunt of this credit crisis. And Secretary Geithner and I just met with not only Marco and Cynthia, but a number of other small business owners and community lenders who shared with us experiences that are familiar to so many.

Small businesses are the heart of the American economy. They’re responsible for half of all private sector jobs —- and they create roughly 70 percent of all new jobs in the past decade. So small businesses are not only job generators, they’re also at the heart of the American Dream. After all, these are businesses born in family meetings around kitchen tables. They’re born when a worker takes a chance on her desire to be her own boss. They’re born when a part-time inventor becomes a full-time entrepreneur, or when somebody sees a product that could be better or a service that could be smarter, and they think, “Well, why not me? Let me try it. Let me take my shot.” That’s Marco’s story, which he just shared with us.

That’s Brian Conrad’s story. When Brian’s company eliminated his department — Brian is sitting right there, so I don’t want to embarrass him here, but it’s a