Sunday, November 16, 2008

President Obama on 60 Minutes: Transcript (11-16-08)

Read the complete transcript.

Kroft: Has this been easier than the campaign trail?

Mr. Obama: Well, it's different. I think that during the campaign it is just a constant frenetic, forward momentum. Here, I'm stationary. But the issues come to you. And we've got a lot of work to do. We've got a lot of problems, a lot of big challenges.

Kroft: Have there been moments when you've said, 'What did I get myself into?'

Mr. Obama: Surprisingly enough, I feel right now that I'm doing what I should be doing. That gives me a certain sense of calm. I will say that the challenges that we're confronting are enormous. And they're multiple. And so there are times during the course of a given a day where you think, 'Where do I start?'

Kroft: What have you been concentrating on this week?

Mr. Obama: Couple of things. Number one, I think it's important to get a national security team in place because transition periods are potentially times of vulnerability to a terrorist attack. We wanna make sure that there is as seamless a transition on national security as possible. Obviously the economy. Talking to top economic advisors about how we're gonna create jobs, how we get the economy back on track and what do we do in terms of some long-term issues like energy and healthcare. And how do we sequence those things in a way that we can actually get things through Congress?

Kroft: Are you in sync with Secretary Paulson in terms of how the $700 billion is being used?

Mr. Obama: Well, look, Hank Paulson has worked tirelessly under some very difficult circumstances. We've got an unprecedented crisis, or at least something that we have not seen since the Great Depression. 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. But I'm less interested in looking backwards than I am in looking forwards.

Kroft: The government has spent almost $300 billion out of the TARP program.

Mr. Obama: Right.

Kroft: Money that was set aside to help the financial industry. And nothing much has changed if you look at it. Nothing much has changed. It’s $300 billion. Why is that?

Mr. Obama: I think the part of the way to think about it is things could be worse. I mean, we could have seen a lot more bank failures over the last several months. We could have seen an even more rapid deterioration of the economy, even a bigger drop in the stock market. So part of what we have to measure against is what didn't happen and not just what has happened.

Having said that, 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. And my job as president is gonna be to make sure that we restore that confidence.

(CBS) Kroft: Once you become president, are there things that you'll change?

Mr. Obama: Well, you know I think we still have to see how this thing unfolds over the next couple of months. One area that I'm concerned about, and I've said this publicly, is we have not focused on foreclosures and what's happening to homeowners as much as I would like. We have the tools to do it. We've gotta set up a negotiation between banks and borrowers so that people can stay in their homes. That is gonna 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.

Kroft: Are you being consulted by Secretary Paulson?
Is he telling you what's going on?

Mr. Obama: You know what we've done is we've assigned somebody on my transition team who interacts with him on a daily basis. And, you know, we are getting the information that's required to and we're making suggestions in some circumstances about how we think they might approach some of these problems.

Republican Governor Jindal: Something Is Wrong With The GOP

Duuuuh! Jindal appearing on Face The Nation (read the complete transcript):

JINDAL: Bob, well, thank you for having me this morning. Clearly, first of all, we need to congratulate President-elect Obama. I think Senator McCain was very gracious on election night. As Republicans, we need to do three things to get back on track. Number one, we have got to stop defending the kind of spending and out-of- control spending that we would never tolerate in the other side. You know, when voters tell us that they trust Democrats more to cut their taxes, control spending, that tells you something is wrong with the Republican Party. We’ve got to match our actions with our rhetoric.

Number two, we’ve got to stop defending the kinds of corruption we would rightfully criticize in the other party. The week before the election, our most senior senator is convicted on federal charges. And that’s only the latest example.

Number three, we have got to be the party that offers real solutions to the problems that American voters, American families are worried about. We don’t need to abandon our conservative principles. We can’t just be the party of no. We need to offer real solutions on making health care more affordable, on the economic challenges facing families, on the international threats.

I think we’re going to have a debate in this country. I’m opposed to a single-payer, government-run health care system. But that’s not enough. We need to also show the American people that we’re for tax credits, we’re for using technology to emphasize preventative primary care, electronic patient records, so every American has access to affordable private coverage.

Jindal gets it. But I don't think Gingrich does:
GINGRICH: No, you know what the number one issue was this fall?

The number one issue this fall was that the Bush administration had failed, OK, and that the Republicans in the House and Senate had failed.

GINGRICH: This was a performance election. You are a 20-, 25-, 30-year-old person and you look at this mess and you say, gosh, do I like this attractive, new, articulate candidate named Obama who is for change we can depend on, or do I want to vote for the party that’s just been failing?

Now, I think we have temporarily a big problem. I think if President-elect Obama is brilliant and committed and lucky, he might well consolidate that vote.

On the other hand, if they watch what you just said in the first half of this show and you end up with Congress bailing out billions to failing companies, and those 20-year-olds and 30-year-olds start to figure out they’re going to pay the taxes, they’re not getting the billions, I think you might find a lot of dissatisfaction by next summer.

Then again, what's wrong with the Democrats. They can't even deal with one of their own who tried to destroy the Democratic nominee, Barack Obama, during the just finished election. This from 'FOX News Sunday'(read the complete transcript):
Senator Dorgan, you have to deal — you and the Senate Democrats have to deal on Tuesday at your House — rather, Senate Democratic Caucus about what to do about Joe Lieberman and whether or not you are going to strip him of his chairmanship of the Homeland Security Committee.

Back in September, you said that Democrats were, quote, "profoundly disappointed" with what he had done and his strong support for McCain over Obama in the election, the fact that he made a tough speech at the Republican convention.

Are you going to vote to strip him of his chairmanship?

DORGAN: Well, I'm not going to discuss — and the — our caucus won't discuss that on television programs. What I think will happen on Tuesday is Senator Lieberman will, I think, make a presentation to the caucus, and the caucus will by secret ballot decide what we might want to do.

And you know, look. Joe is a friend of mine. Joe sits next to me in the Senate. He sits at the desk to my right. He's a good American.

Meet The Press Debate on the Auto Industry Bailout Plan

Should the government "bailout" the auto industry? That's biggest debate going on in Washington. Did the car companies in Michigan bring upon themselves the current crisis, or are they just victims of the downturn like in every other sector of the economy?

Some politicians like Senator Shelby have opposed most of the bailouts:

I haven't seen them yet, Tom. I would--first of all, I think that we would have to see conditions that would fundamentally change the way Detroit does business. They're not building the right products. They did at one time. They've got good workers. But I don't believe they've got good management. They don't innovate. They're a dinosaur, in a sense, and I hate to see this because I would like to see them become lean and, and hungry and innovative. And if they did and put out the right product, they could survive. But I don't believe the $25 billion they're talking about will, will make them survive. It's just postponing the inevitable.

The Senator from Alabama is a bit of hypocrite. How does a member of Congress, that is running historic deficit, talk about "lean"? There are others whom have been pawns of the auto industry, like Senator Carl Levin of Michigan:
Well, this is a national problem, first of all, without any question. We've got at least three million jobs dependent upon this industry surviving. We've got--this is a Main Street problem. We've got 10,000 or more dealers. They, they cover the country in every town of this country. The auto industry touches millions and millions of lives. One out of 10 jobs in this country are auto related. Twenty percent of our retail sales are auto related or automobiles. So this is a national problem.

Secondly, there is, unlike some of the statements that you read, there is bipartisan support for support for this industry to get them through a very difficult problem, including Senator Voinovich of Ohio who is co-chairman of the task force that you made reference to. Other countries are supporting their industries through this difficult period. The European automakers are requesting $56 billion in temporary support, and we expect that they'll be getting it from the European community. This is not a Big Three problem alone. This current crisis is a crisis in the economy where there is no credit available to purchase and where people are not buying cars because they are afraid. They are delaying the major purchases that they need to make because of the uncertainly in the economy. So this is a...

Brokaw nails Levin:
Senator Levin, let me just read to you something that Tom Friedman wrote in The New York Times last week. "The blame for this travesty not only belongs to the auto executives, but must be shared with the entire Michigan delegation in the House and Senate, virtually all of them, year after year, voted however Detroit automakers and unions instructed them to vote. That shielded GM, Ford and Chrysler from environmental concerns, mileage concerns and the full impact of global competition that could have forced Detroit to adapt a long time ago."

At a time when Toyota was producing the Prius and Honda, much more gas-friendly cars, GM, in fact, was turning out the Cadillac Escalade, the Hummers and other big SUVs that were eating a lot of gasoline when a lot of people were raising flags.

Shelby makes a good point on bailing out the inefficient auto industry:
[...]if we let the money go to General Motors, for example, with the same management, the same ideas, it's money wasted. Mark it down and watch it, and it'll be more money. This is just the beginning of, of corporate welfare in a big, big way.

But it's been done before:
SEN. LEVIN: It's not the beginning, Tom. We've done this before. We--we've--we supported Chrysler when it was in this kind of difficulty. People said, "Oh my God, that's corporate welfare." We made money, actually, by supporting Chrysler. We did it with the airline industries in, in 2001. The airline industry was in real trouble. The government came to its support. We've done this in a number of industries; this is not unprecedented. The issue's whether we're going to have manufacturing in America or whether we're going to see the continuation of the loss of millions of jobs overseas.

But allowing them to go into bankruptcy is no solution either:
MR. BROKAW: Let me just ask you both about bankruptcy. Here's from The New York Times, Michelle Maynard writing on Thursday. "A bankruptcy filing by a single Detroit car company could cost the economy $175 billion in the first year of the legal case in lost employee income and tax revenue, the Center for Automotive Research estimated this week. Given the complexity, a GM bankruptcy case could last three years or more.

And, Senator Shelby, 80 percent of car buyers who were questioned said they would not buy a car from a company in bankruptcy because it's a long-term investment, it's not like an airline, it's something that they would have to depend on to get parts and service.

- Read the complete Meet The Press transcript