In an interview on CBS’ 60 Minutes, his first since the election, President-elect Barack Obama talked about the economy, the housing market and how to create a sustainable auto industry. He said that the $700 billion bailout plan has done little to improve the economy so far, but he credited the Bush administration Sunday for working to address the global financial crisis.
“There’s no doubt that we have not been able yet to reset the confidence in the financial markets and in the consumer markets and among businesses that allow the economy to move forward in a strong way,” Obama said. “And my job as president is going to be to make sure that we restore that confidence. We shouldn’t worry about the deficit next year or even the year after. … The most important thing is that we avoid a deepening recession.”
The president-elect also said that not enough has been done to address bank foreclosures and distressed homeowners.
Obama said he has spent the days since the election on short- and long-term issues, from doing “whatever it takes” to stabilize the economy, restore consumer confidence and create jobs, to getting sound health care and energy policies through Congress.
While investors are still riding a rollercoaster on Wall Street, Obama said the economy would have deteriorated even more without the $700 billion bank bailout. Re-regulation is a legislative priority, he said, not to crush “the entrepreneurial spirit and risk-taking of American capitalism” but to “restore a sense of balance.”
“We’ve gotta set up a negotiation between banks and borrowers so that people can stay in their homes. That is going to have an impact on the economy as a whole. And, you know, one thing I’m determined is that if we don’t have a clear, focused program for homeowners by the time I take office, we will after I take office.”
Obama credited Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson for trying to remedy “an unprecedented crisis” that the country hasn’t seen since the Great Depression.
“Hank Paulson has worked tirelessly under some very difficult circumstances, and I think Hank would be the first one to acknowledge that probably not everything that’s been done has worked the way he had hoped it would work.”
A member of the transition team works with Paulson daily, Obama said, getting the needed background and sometimes offering approaches to address the economic meltdown.