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Obama's new battleground: Wall Street

By Jonathan Mann, CNN
Barack Obama claims that Wall Street needs new regulations to prevent a repeat of the financial crisis.
Barack Obama claims that Wall Street needs new regulations to prevent a repeat of the financial crisis.
  • Obama says Wall Street needs reforming to prevent another financial crisis
  • Republicans are adamant they will oppose Obama's proposals
  • Goldman Sachs this week faced fraud charges and announced £3.4B profits
  • Battle over multi-trillion-dollar industry has implications for wider economy

Some of the richest and most powerful people in the United States are arguing about money and the world has trillions of dollars invested in the outcome.

The battle is about how Washington should prevent another credit crisis like the one that began two years ago and punished much of the planet.

"I believe we have to do everything we can to ensure that no crisis like this ever happens again," President Barack Obama said this week. "That's why I'm fighting so hard to pass a set of Wall Street reforms and consumer protections."

The reforms will impose new regulations and oversight on U.S. banks and other financial institutions, which do business with investors and governments worldwide.

It's an industry that still has stunning profits and problems.

This week, U.S. regulators charged Goldman Sachs, one of the most aggressive and profitable names in high finance, with a massive fraud that allegedly cheated Goldman's own customers -- among them, some of the biggest banks in Europe.

Goldman said it was innocent of any wrongdoing and found an entirely different way to raise eyebrows.

Video: Lobbyists prep for financial reform
Video: Obama's financial crisis fix

It announced that its profits for the first three months of the year totaled more than $3.4 billion, despite the sluggish state of the U.S. economy.

The House of Representatives has already passed a bill to change the way Wall Street does business and this week the Senate began its own debate.

Democrats are vowing to adopt the reform and Republicans are adamant they'll oppose it. Lobbyists and executives have crowded into Washington, hoping for a chance to influence lawmakers.

The political parties, along with private organizations such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, have spent more than a million dollars a week on television ads arguing their points of view to the American people.

The Obama administration faced much stronger opposition to its health-care reform and managed to get it adopted anyway.

Now, another multi-trillion-dollar industry is in the midst of a big fight over how it makes its money.

And what it may be doing with yours.