Asked today whether Treasury Secretary Geithner or other members of his administration are at fault for allowing the AIG bonuses or not knowing enough about them, President Obama had a simple answer: "The buck stops with me."
"Ultimately I'm responsible, I'm the president of the United States," he said. "We've got a big mess that we're having to clean up. Nobody here drafted those contracts. Nobody here was responsible for supervising AIG and allowing themselves to put the economy at risk by some of the outrageous behavior that they were engaged in. We are responsible, though. The buck stops with me. And my goal is to make sure that we never put ourselves in this kind of position again."
Mr. Obama made the comments during an impromptu press conference on the White House lawn before he boarded Marine One to begin his two-day trip to California. He called for legislation that would create a FDIC-entity to financial institutions like AIG. (Read more about that here>.)
The president was specifically asked about calls for Geithner to resign from his post over the matter.
"I have complete confidence in Tim Geithner and my entire economic team," Mr. Obama said. "Tim Geithner didn't draft these contracts with AIG."
Mr. Obama then compared Geithner's challenge to that of the first secretary of the Treasury.
"There has never been a secretary of the treasury, except maybe Alexander Hamilton, right after the Revolutionary War, who's had to deal with the multiplicity of issues that Secretary Geithner is having to deal with all at the same time," he said.
Mr. Obama added: "He is doing so with intelligence and diligence. Nobody's working harder than this guy. You know, he is making all the right moves in terms of playing a bad hand."