Obama Back at Work Selling Big Legislative Win with Financial Reform


As President Obama put his signature on yet another landmark piece of legislation, yet again he finds himself having to convince many Americans that reform is a good thing.

"These reforms represent the strongest consumer financial protections in history," he said in signing the Financial Regulatory Reform bill into law today. "These reforms will help lift our economy and lead all of us to a stronger, more prosperous future, and I am honored to sign them into law," he said.

But the problems over financial reform mirror the problems the White House has had on selling health care reform, that large pieces of legislation which normally should be seen as major once-in-a-generation accomplishments, are dismissed as government over-reaching.

What Democrats see as major accomplishments aimed to protect the average American, most Republicans see as big government, big spending policies that hurt the business community and therefore stifle job growth.

Here's the chief architect of the Republican opposition to the Obama agenda, Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell: "For more than a year and a half, the president and his Democrat allies on Capitol Hill have pushed an anti-business, anti-jobs agenda on the American people in the form of one massive government intrusion after another."

"Americans are tired of this kind of 'reform'. Job stifling taxes, regulations, government intrusion. These appear to be the three pillars of every Democratic legislative effort. They're also the three things lawmakers can do that are guaranteed to kill more jobs," he said.

McConnell continued his attack: "When out-of-work Americans see Democrats celebrating today, what they'll see are lawmakers who've completely lost touch, and who've lost the trust of the American people."

You can see the difference of opinion when you hear what Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said after McConnell on the senate floor: "What an important day for this country, After this financial collapse, we've reigned in Wall Street. That's a day for celebration."

The battle between the two parties over the Obama agenda does not end on the Senate floor. These themes are battle lines for the fall elections - Democrats saying they've taken the country forward through major reforms made to protect Americans, fix mistakes and prevent another economic catastrophe; Republicans say that the reforms have caused high unemployment and have not helped, but rather have hurt economic recovery.

And with the latest CBS News Poll showing that the economy is by far the number one issue voters are concerned about right now, the political battle is just heating up. And for the Democrats to be successful in the fall, they are going to have to sell these major accomplishments to the American people so that they feel the difference sooner rather than later.

When asked what it would take for the public to start giving the White House credit for the major legislative accomplishments, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said that it would take some of the 8 million people who lost their jobs in the economic downturn to find work.

"The president has accomplished a lot, but in order for those accomplishments to break through to people and to benefit Democrats in November, it has to affect them in their daily lives," says CBS News Political Analyst John Dickerson. "That's not happening, and the way people feel about Washington--they're not sure anything coming out of Washington can help them in their daily lives," he said.

More Coverage:

Obama Signs Sweeping Financial Reform Into Law
Highlights of the New Law
White House: Financial Reform Law Won't Hurt Business that Play by the Rules
Battle Brews in Naming Financial Watchdog Head
Special Section: Wall Street Under Fire

From CBSMoneyWatch.com:

Financial Reform Bill Passes: What's In It For You?
5 Ways the Financial Reform Law Changes Your Money Habits

Robert Hendin is a CBS News White House producer. You can read more of his posts in Hotsheet here. You can also follow him on Twitter here.
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    Robert Hendin is senior producer for "Face the Nation" and a CBS News senior political producer.