The Speech That Obama Can’t Give

January 13, 2016 at 8:47 am 9 comments


Yesterday’s State of the Union Address would have made a great inaugural address. Instead, President Obama, a man who arguably infused the nation with more hope and excitement than any President since Franklin D. Roosevelt, was left to ponder what the next President might be able to accomplish. This is the act of a man who knows that his Administration fell short, albeit because governance over a virtually schizophrenic American public and a political system that has come dangerously close to breaking down is all but impossible.

This is where I am coming from. History will record that as the President took office the nation was confronting its greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression. This was no run of the mill economic slow down. It was instead caused by banking excesses that cried out for structural reforms. How did the President respond to these challenges?

Today, the big banks are as big as ever. Fannie and Freddie are still in business. Recent reports indicate that the rating agencies are still up to their old tricks. And intelligent people argue with a straight face that if only Government didn’t get involved, none of this would have happened.

In contrast, the President could have put forward a proposal to once again separate investment and commercial banking. He could have had a Justice Department that aggressively sought to hold individuals responsible for their misdeeds as opposed to allowing them to hide behind their corporate veils. And, he could have sounded the alarm that the American political system was in danger of being hijacked by financial oligarchs.

In short, he could have had the record that Franklin Roosevelt had in October of 1936 as he ran for re-election. In the speech, which sounds better if you listen to it, Roosevelt delivers one of the best pieces of populist oratory in the history of the American Presidency. Remember that when he gave this speech he had passed legislation creating a firewall between investment and commercial banking, established the SEC, and, by the way, authorized the creation of federally chartered credit unions.

For nearly four years you have had an Administration which instead of twirling its thumbs has rolled up its sleeves. We will keep our sleeves rolled up.

We had to struggle with the old enemies of peace—business and financial monopoly, speculation, reckless banking, class antagonism, sectionalism, war profiteering.

They had begun to consider the Government of the United States as a mere appendage to their own affairs. We know now that Government by organized money is just as dangerous as Government by organized mob.

Never before in all our history have these forces been so united against one candidate as they stand today. They are unanimous in their hate for me—and I welcome their hatred.

I should like to have it said of my first Administration that in it the forces of selfishness and of lust for power met their match. I should like to have it said of my second Administration that in it these forces met their master.

It truly is a missed opportunity for the Country that this President couldn’t give a similar address last night.

Entry filed under: General. Tags: , , .

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9 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Anonymous  |  January 13, 2016 at 8:53 am


  • 2. Ronald McLean  |  January 13, 2016 at 8:55 am

    A good post, I could listen to FDR forever.

    Ron McLean | SVP – Credit Union Relations & Chief Marketing Officer
    New York Credit Union Association
    P.O. Box 15118, Albany, NY 12212-5118
    Ph: (800) 342-9835, ext. 8191 | Cell: (518) 469-5945 | Find us on Facebook | Follow us on Twitter


  • 3. Lynn Gray  |  January 13, 2016 at 10:01 am

    Thank you Henry for sharing once again you hit it 100% on the nail.

  • 4. Keith Leggett  |  January 13, 2016 at 4:49 pm


    You sound like Senators Warren and Sanders with your proposals.

    What’s next? Are you going to join the Occupy Movement? .

    • 5. Henry Meier  |  January 14, 2016 at 10:42 am

      Ouch Keith, that hurts.

      Remember even a broken clock is right twice a day and the same is true of the Senators from Vermont and Massachusetts. For the record I believe that the free market can do a better job of regulating banking activity than the CFPB or Government can, most of the time.

      But if you believe in the Free Market than we not only have to let people profit from their success but insure that we don’t keep them from failing when mistakes are made. When the largest banks and wealthiest CEOs get to run to the Government for bailouts while middle and working class families are laid off and end up in foreclosure because of banking excesses this is not capitalism but a grotesque and dangerous distortion of which Putin would be proud.

      That’s why conservatives like George Will support Banking Reform. If a Bank is Too Big to Fail Its too big. Your average American gets that and I think it is one of the reasons why they are so angry at the political establishment.
      Here is one of my previous blogs

  • 6. Keith Leggett  |  January 14, 2016 at 11:14 am

    I agree Too Big to Fail is a problem.

    But the solution from the pitchfork wielding crowd of restoring Glass-Steagall does not seem to be the right approach.

    Today’s Wall Street Journal has an interesting article that the regulatory framework arising out of Dodd Frank Act is causing larger financial firms to break themselves up to avoid SIFI designation.

  • […] Policy? One of the biggest reactions I  get from this blog is  when I point out that any true free market conservative should be in […]

  • […] I’m so desperate as an American to see the system working. This is nowhere near the type of radical reform that I think the system still needs but let’s not underestimate the value and importance of a […]

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Authored By:

Henry Meier, Esq., General Counsel, New York Credit Union Association.

The views Henry expresses are Henry’s alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Association.

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