And standing with the president at the historical signing was Rome resident and Floyd County Democratic Party communications chair Robin Fox.
Fox, a seventh grade teacher, sent a letter to the president last August because her credit card company retroactively increased the rate on her existing credit card balance from 10.90 percent to 17.90 percent, even though she paid her account on time. The increase has been a burden on her family at an already difficult time, after her husband's landscaping business dried up because of the financial crisis.
She was called just days ago and invited to the signing after exchanging a series of letters with the White House.
The law, pushed through mainly by Democrats in Washington's deeply partisan environment, comes almost two years after the infamous near financial meltdown in 2008 in the United States that was felt around the globe. The legislation gives the government new powers to break up companies that threaten the economy, creates a new agency to guard consumers and puts more light on the financial markets that escaped the oversight of regulators.
Obama described them all as commonsense reforms that will help people in their daily life — signing contracts, understanding fees, being aware of risks.
He went so far as to call the reforms "the strongest consumer protections in history." The president added to a burst of applause: "Because of this law, the American people will never again be asked to foot the bill for Wall Street's mistakes."
Republicans portray the bill as a burden on small banks and the businesses that rely on them and argue it will cost consumers and impede job growth. Republican Rep. Darrell Issa of California called Obama's bill-signing a "charade" that ignored the root causes of the financial crisis.
In the midst of a heated midterm election season for many lawmakers, Obama sought to put the complex law in consumer-oriented terms for the nation. He said it would help root out fine print and hidden fees for people, and provide deeper scrutiny of the sophisticated financial transactions on Wall Street.
The law also assembles a powerful council of regulators to be on the lookout for risks across the finance system. Large, failing financial institutions will now be liquidated and the costs assessed on their surviving peers. Borrowers will be protected from hidden fees and abusive terms, but also will have to provide evidence that they can repay their loans. The Federal Reserve will get new powers while at the same time coming under expanded congressional oversight.