Obama: What I'm interested in is a targeted jobs package that can help to boost what's already taking place. Companies are already starting to hire again. Is there a way to boost their confidence and I think there is.
The president hopes to subsidize the jobs program and pay down some of the deficit with billions of dollars being returned to the government under the TARP program. Some Wall Street banks have recovered to the point where they can not not afford only pay back the loans, but once again hand out huge bonuses to their employees.
At three of the biggest banks, they are expected to total $30 billion. That's roughly what it will cost the government to finance the surge in Afghanistan, and President Obama is furious.
Obama: I did not run for office to be helping out a bunch of, you know, fat cat bankers on Wall Street. The only ones that are gonna be paying out these fat bonuses are the ones that have now paid back that TARP money and aren't using taxpayer loans.
Kroft: Do you think that's why they paid it back so quickly?
Obama: I think in some cases that was a motivation. Which I think tells me that the people on Wall Street still don't get it. They don't get it. They're still puzzled. "Why is it that people are mad at the banks?" Well, let's see. You guys are drawing down $10, $20 million bonuses after America went through the worst economic year that it's gone through in decades, and you guys caused the problem. And we've got ten percent unemployment. Why do you think people might be a little frustrated.
Kroft: Do you think that they've made some of these bonuses based in part on the generosity and policies of the United States government to help put the financial system back on its feet?
Obama: I think there is no doubt about it. And what's most frustrating me right now is you've got these same banks who benefitted from taxpayer assistance who are fighting tooth and nail with their lobbyists up on Capitol Hill fighting against financial regulatory reform.
Kroft: Why is it taking so long?
Obama: Well, everything appears to take long in Congress. We can talk about health care (LAUGHS) if you want. This is democracy in action.
Kroft: You mentioned Congress and health care. You ran for office based on the fact that you were going to try and reform the system. You wanted to change the status quo in Washington. Then you came in, and you turned over your top priority, health care, to the Congress.
Obama: That's not true.
Kroft: Five-hundred-thirty-five well, you laid out what you wanted, and you set the guidelines.
Obama: Right. Exactly.
Kroft: And then stood back and turned it over to 535 people who produced a 2,000-page bill that is-
Kroft: Well, I haven't read it. So
Obama: Finish your thought, Steve.