- The Washington Times - Friday, June 25, 2010

President Obama flew to Canada Friday morning for an economic summit with world leaders, armed with news of a congressional deal reforming Wall Street practices that led to the 2008 financial crisis.

The heads of state gathering in Toronto for the Group of 20 meeting of industrialized powers have called on the United States to regulate and reform the out of control financial practices that brought down the world economy and led to the biggest global recession since the Great Depression, putting Mr. Obama under the gun to show progress on that front.

Criticism of U.S. delays on reforming Wall Street has been particularly strong from European leaders, who have already enacted stiff new curbs on their financial sectors and are moving to raise taxes on banks to cover the cost of bailing out those that fail in the future. Europeans became belated victims of the crisis that began in the United States, as it spawned a government debt crisis on the continent this year, further hobbling the global economy.

“This crisis proved, and events continue to affirm that our national economies are inextricably linked,” Mr. Obama said before departing, stressing that the limits placed on banks in the future must be coordinated and global to be sure that banks don’t find ways to get around them.

The congressional deal, completed in the wee hours of the morning after an all-night session of a House-Senate conference committee, “represents 90 percent of what I proposed when I took up this fight,” the president said, adding that it should have no trouble getting through the Senate.

“We’ll hold Wall Street accountable so we can help prevent another financial crisis like the one that we’re still recovering from,” he said.

Without the deal, Mr. Obama likely would have been subject to pressure and derision by other world leaders for not moving more quickly to clean up practices on Wall Street, which was the epicenter of the crisis. The reforms were delayed last year as the president and Congress gave precedence to health care reform.

The disapproving reaction both from abroad and at home to that diversion forced the president this year to put financial reform back at the top of his agenda, and he has been pressing to get a bill passed and signed into law ever since. Congressional leaders said the measure is on track to arrive on his desk by a presidentially imposed deadline of July 4.