- The Washington Times - Monday, December 14, 2009

President Obama continued his tough talk Monday toward U.S. bank executives, suggesting they have paid only lip service to efforts to improve the economy.

“We expect them to explore every reasonable way to help our economy move again,” Mr. Obama said after a White House meeting with financial-services executives.

Mr. Obama said the executives discussed a variety of plans — including one in which they are taking a second look at rejected credit applications — but little action has been taken.

“We expect some results,” the president said. “Go back and take a third and fourth look.”

Mr. Obama said U.S. bankers have a responsibility to get credit flowing again — especially to job-creating small businesses — considering taxpayer money saved the banks from crashing during the recession.

The president said the meeting inside the White House’s Diplomatic Reception Room also included discussions on improving lending practices for homeowners and the administration’s plans for financial reform.

He said the bank executives said Monday they want financial reform, in part to avoid the bubble-and-bust cycle that led to the financial crisis. However, what they said differed from what banking lobbyists are saying on Capitol Hill.

“I was assured that gap will be closed,” Mr. Obama said.

The meeting came a day after Mr. Obama in a TV interview described Wall Street bankers at “fat cats.”

The meeting was held hours after Citigroup said it had reached a deal with the Treasury Department to repay $20 billion in bailout money.

The president said he will attempt to collect “every penny” of money.