Nightly News   |  July 21, 2010

Obama: 'No more tax-funded bailouts'

Nearly two years after the nation's financial system teetered on the verge of collapse, President Obama on Wednesday signed into law the most sweeping series of financial regulatory reforms since the Great Depression. NBC's Tom Costello reports.

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BRIAN WILLIAMS, anchor: Let's go back to Washington for a moment for what happened there today, because it will be felt across the country. Almost two years now after the entire banking system almost collapsed, President Obama signed the financial reform bill into law. And as our own Tom Costello reports, it will usher in some big changes.

TOM COSTELLO reporting: With the stroke of a presidential pen...

President BARACK OBAMA: It's done.

COSTELLO: ...the new financial regulatory reform law is aimed at curbing the excesses on Wall Street while protecting average Americans who live and work on Main Street .

Pres. OBAMA: All told, these reforms represent the strongest consumer financial protections in history. In history.

COSTELLO: That will largely come from a new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau charged with stopping scams and overseeing nearly every type of loan. Moreover, it will ensure homebuyers are qualified for the loans they're getting. Lenders will be required to provide credit scores for free. Merchants will be allowed to set a $10 minimum for credit card charges, and offer discounts for cash, while bank overdraft fees and interest rates will also be regulated.

Ms. JEAN CHATZKY ("Today" Financial Editor): Consumers should be able to understand what they're getting and not have to worry after they buy something or sign on the dotted line that they didn't understand what they got.

COSTELLO: For Wall Street the law establishes a Council of Regulators to oversee banks and the risky derivatives markets that contributed to the financial crisis , with the power to shut down the riskiest banks.

STEVE LIESMAN reporting: The average American might be affected by this bill in terms of slightly higher cost for credit. But what they will be receiving in return for that might be a more stable financial system .

COSTELLO: But critics on the left say the new regulations won't stop another meltdown, while business argues it's bad for business.

Mr. TOM DONOHUE (United States Chamber of Commerce): What are the things that are going to put people back to work? It's assurance by the job creators, the access to capital.

Pres. OBAMA: And unless your business model depends on cutting corners or bilking your customers, you've got nothing to fear from reform.

COSTELLO: The next big political fight will be over who should lead this new consumer protection bureau. He or she will have tremendous influence over banks, credit cards , even payday loans. And the Senate gets to vote on the president's choice. Tom Costello, NBC News, Bethesda, Maryland.