President Obama will continue his push for health care reform and discuss the steps taken to repair the economic collapse that occurred a year ago.
Here are some excerpts from the 60 Minutes interview between President Obama and Steve Kroft:
KROFT: One of the things that you said when you ran for President was that one of your talents was to be able to get people in a room with divergent opinions who were yelling and screaming at each other.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Right.
KROFT: Get them to sit down and come to an agreement. Have you tried that on healthcare?
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Yeah. Well, I we tried very early on, in fact right here in the White House. That’s how we kicked off our healthcare agenda was to bring all the stakeholders together and say, “Let’s try to get something done.”
KROFT: Why hasn’t it worked?
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well I think right now you’ve got just a political environment where there are those in the Republican Party who think the best thing to do is just to kill reform. That will be good politics. And then there are some people who sincerely want to see something done, but have very different views. And what I’ve tried to do is to make sure those in the latter category — who don’t just want to kill something, but actually want to get something done — that we are bringing them in and as open to their ideas as possible.
Regarding the economic stimulus:
KROFT: You ran for this job saying that you were not a big-spending liberal, and that you were definitely under no circumstances a socialist. And I know that you inherited a unique set of circumstances. But in nine months, you’ve in effect nationalized two automobile companies, sections of the banking industry.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Ah, wait a minute.
KROFT: The country’s largest . . . .
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Hold on, time out, a second, Steve. Come on, now. Let’s think about it. On the banking issue, when I walked in the banking system, the financial system was under the verge of collapse. And what have I done. I’ve essentially taken the program that was voted on by the previous Congress, supported by the previous Republican president, and his Treasury Secretary, and we’ve made it work. So, that didn’t originate under my watch.
KROFT: And neither did the nationalization of the country’s largest insurance agent.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Exactly. When AIG happened, that didn’t happen on my watch. We tried to make it work. With the auto companies, before I took office, Uncle Sam was writing them billions of dollars worth of checks without holding them accountable. And what we’ve said was, “You know what, this is not gonna be a good deal for consumers if every six months, we have to write you a $10 billion or $5 billion dollar check to keep you operating. So, if you’re going to get taxpayer money, then you’ve got to be accountable to taxpayers by a restructuring.”
The fact is that I inherited the worst economy since the Great Depression. And I inherited programs that had been initiated before I took office. The ones that are most unpopular had started under the previous administration. And what we’ve done is try to make sure that they work effectively. And as a consequence of the steps that we’ve taken, what we’ve seen is that a year after Lehman’s collapsed, and this economic crisis started, it’s fair to say that every economist out there is saying we have pulled back from the brink, and that we might even actually go into positive growth sometime in the next few months.
What I think is a legitimate concern, because this did happen under my watch, is that we initiated a big recovery act. That was a lot of money. Eight hundred billion dollars. And the reason we did so was that every credible Democratic and Republican economist at the time when we came in said, “If we don’t have a stimulus of some sort, then this is potentially going to get a lot worse.”
And now, eight months afterwards, the vast majority of economists out there are saying, “You know what, as a consequence of the stimulus, that probably helped to cushion the blow, and we probably got an additional two percent or so of growth because of it.” Not to mention the fact that you had a whole bunch of people out there who got unemployment insurance after they were laid off from their jobs. A whole bunch of people were able to keep their health care after they lost their jobs. A whole bunch of states got the kind of revenues that prevented them from having to lay off teachers and cops.
So, I am happy to defend the choices that we made in a very difficult environment. And the proof is that right now, the economy, after a very trying time, has stabilized. We’re not out of the woods yet. And everybody out there who’s still having a tough time knows it. But we are moving in a direction where I think we can actually start seeing some positive growth.
This is just a very small part of the interview. You can watch Sunday night at 7 p.m. (on the west coast) or read the transcript at CBS News.com
Cheri is a freelance writer living in Southern California. She has two grown children and is the proud grandmother of three.
You can find Cheri’s home page at www.ccabot.gather.com
Her weekly political column “Personal About Politics”, can be found at www.personalpolitics.gather.com.