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Obama Seeks Limits on Banks, Condemns Campaign Finance Ruling

The proposals came the same week as he marked his first year as president and his party lost an important Senate seat. Also, the Supreme Court eased political spending limits on corporations. Transcript of radio broadcast:

This is the VOA Special English Economics Report.

President Obama is proposing rules to limit the size of banks and the risks they can take. He wants to prevent banks from using government-insured deposits to make risky investments. He also wants to keep them from owning hedge funds or private equity funds.

Banks took big losses as they traded mortgage-related securities that went bad. That helped create the financial crisis.

Bank shares fell after the president's announcement Thursday. His earlier efforts at financial reform have faced strong opposition from financial companies and some members of Congress.

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In the Senate, sixty votes are needed to prevent unlimited debate on a bill. But the Democrats have lost their sixtieth vote. On Tuesday voters in Massachusetts elected a Republican to finish the term of Ted Kennedy who died in August.

Scott Brown opposes the health care legislation in Congress. His election could also affect other areas, like climate change legislation and reforms in the financial system.

And at the same time a separate development could affect elections around the country. The United States Supreme Court has cleared the way for businesses to spend more in political campaigns. The ruling is expected to apply to labor unions as well.

The court decided Thursday to ease campaign finance restrictions that were in place for many years. The vote was five to four. The decision overturned rulings that barred corporations from using their own money to pay for campaign ads for or against candidates. The conservative majority on the court said the restrictions on political speech violate the free speech guarantee in the Constitution.

President Obama called it a "major victory" for powerful interests like big oil companies, Wall Street banks and health insurance companies. He directed his administration to talk with congressional leaders from both parties to develop a "forceful response."

Elections for Congress are this November. The next presidential election is in two thousand twelve.

Wednesday marked Barack Obama's first anniversary in office. But the Republican victory in liberal Massachusetts was seen in large part as a sign of voter anger across the country about the economy.

Unemployment has doubled in two years to ten percent. Many people are angry that they struggle while the government rescued big banks. Some banks took losses last year but others earned record profits.

And that's the VOA Special English Economics Report. I'm Mario Ritter.