Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Obama Interview with CBS' Katie Couric: Transcript (11-3-08)

Read the complete transcript.

Katie Couric: Let's talk about single-party rule for a moment. Some critics describe it as all accelerator and no brakes. There are fears that perhaps an unbridled, unchecked, filibuster-proof Democratic majority will overreach and move the country too far to the left. How do you assuage people's concerns about that?

Barack Obama:Well, look, I mean first of all, I think it's important to point out that the critics who make this claim are Republicans. (laughter)

Couric: But you know, against one-party rule.

Obama: I understand. I understand. But they weren't making those same complaints a few years ago. On the other hand, we've seen the example of a Republican Congress and President overreaching …

Couric: And a Democratic one in the Clinton administration.

Obama: And so I think the concerns are legitimate. Look, the benefit of having a Democratic president and a Democratic Congress will be that hopefully you can actually move on some big issues like energy or healthcare that have been sitting there for decades. We know they're huge problems. We know we've got to change how we do business there. But we just haven't been able to round up consensus to get it done.

The flip side of it is if Democrats come in and say to themselves, "it's our turn and we're just going to go crazy doing whatever it is that we feel like - I think then their majority won't last very long.

Couric: The Economist, while endorsing you, has also said there are some legitimate criticisms of you that John McCain should be focused on. They say that you are one of the least business-friendly Democratic candidates in a generation, that you have no experience in the business world aside from year as a consultant, and that you're too close to unions and trial lawyers.

Obama: Well, it is The Economist. And the fact that they endorsed me, how about reading all the good stuff they said about me? (laughter)

Couric: Well, that's in another issue. (laughter) That's later.

Obama: You know, I think there's a reason why people like Warren Buffet have endorsed me. I think that if you look actually at our business support, it's pretty remarkable. People like Eric Schmidt, the head of Google who … has said that, you know, I understand how the global economy works, how we have to adapt to a new 21st century competitive environment. Now, what is also true is that I think our economy works best when it grows from the bottom up, when everybody's benefiting. And that's one of the lessons I think of the last 16 years. We really had an experiment. We had Bill Clinton who was, you know, accused of, you know, raising taxes on business and so forth. But, in fact, what happened was the whole economy grew at every sector.

And businesses did well because their customers were doing well. On the other hand, you had George Bush who figured let's cut taxes for the wealthiest Americans. Let's deregulate to the hilt. And, you know, what we now see is that when Main Street is hurting, when its wages and income isn't going up, then businesses are hurt as well. So I actually think that the approach that I take is very business-friendly.

I think that capitalism and the free market is the best economic system ever devised to create wealth. But I also think there has to be some basic rules to the road. And, you know, we have learned that lesson during this latest financial crisis.