July Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) - Meet the Press | NBC News
Transcript of the July 27, broadcast of NBC's 'Meet the Press,' featuring Sen. updated 7/27/ PM ET T Print; Font: +; -. MR. TOM BROKAW: And we are here with Senator Obama late Saturday afternoon in Brian Williams will be reported from Tehran where he'll interview Iran's. Rumor: Barack Obama said he would replace the U.S. national anthem with the claim that it was derived from the 7 September airing of Meet the Press and EST, Televised “Meet the Press” the THEN Senator Obama . From Sunday's Televised "Meet the Press," Senator Obama was . isn't the video of the date mentioned, the date mentioned was Sep 7,
There is no evidence that it's cause and effect, you should be happy to know. But, nonetheless, we now are officially in a recession. It's around the world, and most analysts think it's going to get worse before it gets better. Sixty-seven years ago this day, one of your predecessors, Franklin Roosevelt, faced Pearl Harbor.
What are the differences between his challenges and the ones that you face? Well, first of all, I think it's important for us to remember that as tough as times are right now, they're nothing compared to what my grandparents went through, what the "greatest generation" went through. You know, at this point you already had 25, 30 percent unemployment across the country, and we didn't have many of the social safety nets that emerged out of the New Deal.
So there's no doubt that Franklin Roosevelt had to re-create an entire economic structure that had entirely collapsed, and we've got some strengths that he didn't, he didn't have. But, look, if you look at the unemployment numbers that came out yesterday, if you think about almost two million jobs lost so far, if you think about the fragility of the financial system and the fact that it is now a global financial system, so that what happens in Thailand or Russia can have an impact here, and obviously, what happens on Wall Street has an impact worldwide, when you think about the structural problems that we already had in the economy before the financial crisis, this is a big problem and it's going to get worse.
And, and one of the things that I'm constantly mindful of are all the people I met during the campaign who were already struggling before things got worse. You know, mothers and fathers who were working hard every day but didn't have health care, couldn't figure out how to send their kids to college.
Now they're looking at pink slips, jobs being shipped overseas that devastate entire towns. And that's why my number one priority coming in is making sure that we've got an economic recovery plan that is equal to the task. Here's what you had to say a short time ago to the national conference of governors.
It was kind of a reality check for them to put it in some kind of a context. Let's share that with our audience now, if we can. We're going to have to make hard choices. Like the ones that you're making right now in your state capitals, we're going to have to make in Washington. And we are not, as a nation, going to be able to just keep on printing money; so, at some point, we're also going to have to make some long-term decisions in terms of fiscal responsibility and not all of those choices are going to be popular.
On this program about a year ago, you said that being a president is 90 percent circumstances and about 10 percent agenda. The circumstances now are, as you say, very unpopular in terms of the decisions that have to be made. Which are the most unpopular ones that the country's going to have to deal with? Well, fortunately, as tough as times are right now--and things are going to get worse before they get better--there is a convergence between circumstances and agenda. The key for us is making sure that we jump-start that economy in a way that doesn't just deal with the short term, doesn't just create jobs immediately, but also puts us on a glide path for long-term, sustainable economic growth.
And that's why I spoke in my radio address on Saturday about the importance of investing in the largest infrastructure program--in roads and bridges and, and other traditional infrastructure--since the building of the federal highway system in the s; rebuilding our schools and making sure that they're energy efficient; making sure that we're investing in electronic medical records and other technologies that can drive down health care costs.
All those things are not only immediate--part of an immediate stimulus package to the economy, but they're also down payments on the kind of long-term, sustainable growth that we need. To give an indication of how quickly things change now, at warp speed, when you and I last saw each other, six weeks ago, I think it was, in Nashville, when I asked you your priorities, you said health care, energy and education would be your top three priorities.
You didn't anticipate at that time that you would have to outline this kind of a stimulus program. The real question in the stimulus program that you have just described and as you shared with, with the American audience in your radio address is how quickly will it mean jobs out there across America and how much is it going to cost and who's going to pay for it? Well, I think we can get a lot of work done fast. When I met with the governors, all of them have projects that are shovel ready, that are going to require us to get the money out the door, but they've already lined up the projects and they can make them work.
And now, we're going to have to prioritize it and do it not in the old traditional politics first wave. What we need to do is examine what are the projects where we're going to get the most bang for the buck, how are we going to make sure taxpayers are protected. You know, the days of just pork coming out of Congress as a strategy, those days are over. How much it's going to cost? My economic team is examining that right now.
And one of the things I'm very pleased with is how fast we've gotten a first-rate economic team in place, the fastest in modern history. They are busy working, crunching the numbers, looking at the macro-economic data to make a determination as to what the size and the scope of the economic recovery plan needs to be. But it is going to be substantial. One last point I want to make on this is that we are inheriting an enormous budget deficit.
You know, some estimates over a trillion dollars. That's before we do anything. And so we understand that we've got to provide a, a, a blood infusion into the patient right now to make sure that the patient is stabilized, and, and that means that we, we can't worry short term about the deficit.
We've got to make sure that the economic stimulus plan is large enough to get the economy moving. One of the great concerns in this country, of course, is additional job loss, which would be considerable if the Big Three in the auto industry in this country--GM, Ford and Chrysler--were to go down.
That drama has been playing out in Washington and across America. Do you think the Big Three deserve to survive? They have not managed that industry the way they should have, and I've been a strong critic of the auto industry's failure to adapt to changing times--building small cars and energy efficient cars that are going to adapt to a new market.
But what I've also said is, is that the auto industry is the backbone of American manufacturing. It is a huge employer across many states.
Millions of people, directly or indirectly, are reliant on that industry, and so I don't think it's an option to simply allow it to collapse. What we have to do is to provide them with assistance, but that assistance is conditioned on them making significant adjustments.
They're going to have to restructure, and all their stakeholders are going to have to restructure. Labor, management, shareholders, creditors--everybody's going to recognize that they have--they do not have a sustainable business model right now. And if they expect taxpayers to help in that adjustment process, then they can't keep on putting off the kinds of changes that they, frankly, should have made 20 or 30 years ago.
If, if they want to survive, then they better start building a fuel-efficient car. And if they want to survive, they, they've got to recognize that the auto market is not going to be as large as some of their rosy scenarios that they've put forward over the last several years.
It's pretty clear that the Democrats are going to try to get them a bridge loan to get through the short term, but it's the long term that is the larger question here. A number of people--Paul Ingrassia, as a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter from The Wall Street Journal has said we ought to have a government-structured bankruptcy and maybe even an automobile czar of some kind.
Does that kind of plan have any appeal for you? Well, there are a lot of discussions taking place right now between members of Congress, the Bush administration. I've had my team have conversations with these folks to see how can you keep the automakers' feet to the fire in making the changes that are necessary. But understand, these aren't ordinary times. You know, some people have said let's just send them through a bankruptcy process. Well, even as large a company as GM, in ordinary times, might be able to go through a Chapter 11 bankruptcy, restructure, and still keep their business operations going.
When you are seeing this kind of collapse at the same time as you've got the financial system as shaky as, as it is, that means that we're going to have to figure out ways to put the pressure on the way a bankruptcy court would, demand accountability, demand serious changes.
But do so in a way that it allows them to keep the factory doors open. And, you know, right now there's a number of discussions about how to do that, and I hope that we're going to see some short-term progress in the next few days.
My economic team is focused on what we expect to inherit on January 20th, and we'll have some very specific plans in terms of how to move that forward. But help me out here. Are you looking at the possibility of some kind of a government structure that runs that reorganization? I--we don't want government to run companies. Generally, government historically hasn't done that very well. Not to run the companies but Well, what, what we do need is, if taxpayer money is at stake, which it appears may be the case, we want to make sure that it is conditioned on a auto industry emerging at the end of the process that actually works, that actually functions.
The last thing I want to see happen is for the auto industry to disappear. But I'm also concerned that we don't put 10 or 20 or 30 or whatever billion dollars into an industry, and then, six months to a year later, they come back hat in hand and say, "Give me more. They're going through extraordinarily difficult times right now, and they want to see the kind of accountability that, that, that, unfortunately, we haven't always seen coming out of Washington.
But under that organization or any reorganization that you settle on Here's what I'll, I'll say, that it may not be the same for all the, all the companies, but what I think we have to put an end to is the head-in-the-sand approach to the auto industry that has been prevalent for decades now.
I think, in fairness, you have seen some progress made incrementally in many of these companies. You know, they have been building better cars now than they were 10 or 15 or 20 years ago.
They are making some investments in the kind of green technologies and, and the new batteries that would allow us to create plug-in hybrids. What we haven't seen is a sense of urgency and the willingness to make tough decisions. And what we still see are executive compensation packages for the auto industry that are out of line compared to their competitors, their Japanese competitors who are doing a lot better.
Now, it's not unique to the auto industry. We have seen that across the board. Certainly, we saw it on Wall Street. Figure out ways in which workers maybe have to take a haircut, but they can still keep their jobs, they can still keep their health care and they can still stay in their homes.
That kind of notion of shared benefits and burdens is something that I think has been lost for too long, and it's something that I'd like to see restored. Let's talk for a moment about consumer responsibility when it comes to the auto industry. As soon as gas prices began to drop, consumers moved back to the larger cars once again, to SUVs and the big gas consumers. We're not going to have gasoline that you can just fill up your tank for 20 bucks anymore.
Well, keep, keep in mind what's happening in--to families all across America. Yes, gas prices have gone down. But, in the meantime, maybe somebody in the family's lost their job. In the meantime, their housing values have plummeted. In the meantime, maybe their hours have been cut back. Or if they're a small-business owner, their sales have gone down 50, 60, 70 percent. So putting additional burdens on American families right now, I think, is a mistake. What we have to do long term is make sure that we have an energy strategy that focuses on fuel-efficient cars, that focuses on providing incentives for fuel-efficient cars.
Same applies to buildings. We have a enormously inefficient building stock, and we can save huge amounts of energy costs and reduce our dependence on foreign oil by simple things like weatherization and changing the lighting in, in major buildings. That's going to be part of our economic recovery plan. It actually allows us to spend some money, put some people to work right away, but it also creates a long-term, sustainable energy future.
And I think making some of those investments in ensuring that we change our auto fleet over the next several years, that's going to be important as well.
Dec. 7: President-elect Barack Obama - Meet the Press | NBC News
The other big financial storm that continues to build out there, of course, are mortgages. You said recently that is an area of particular concern to you. The chairman of the Federal Reserve, Bernanke, said recently that something that--needs to be done urgently.
- 'Meet the Press' transcript for July 27, 2008
- Obama Explains National Anthem Stance?
- Barack Obama On Meet the Press Sept. 7, 2008?
During the course of the campaign, you suggested a three-month moratorium. Is that still part of the policy that you would like to have begun when you become president of the United States? And what else needs to be done to do something about mortgages? Well, I, I'm having my team examine all the options that are out there. I'm disappointed that we haven't seen quicker movement on this issue by the administration. And we have said publicly and privately that we want to see a package that helps homeowners not just because it's good for that particular homeowner, it's good for the community.
When you have foreclosures, property values decline and you get a downward spiral all across America. It's also good for the financial system because keep in mind how this financial system became so precarious in the first place. You, you had a huge amount of debt, a huge amount of other people's money that was being lent, and speculation was taking place on--based on these home mortgages. And if we can strengthen those assets, then that will strengthen the financial system as a whole.
So I think a moratorium on foreclosures remains an important tool, an important option. I think we also should be working to figure out how we can get banks and homeowners to renegotiate the terms of their mortgages so that they are sustainable. The vast majority of people who are at threat of foreclosure are still making monthly payments, they want to stay in their homes, they want to stay in their communities, but the strains are enormous. And if we can relieve some of that stress, long term it's going to be better for the banks, it's going to be certainly better for the community, it's going to be better for our economy as a whole.
This is going to be a top priority of my administration.
'Meet the Press' transcript for Sept. 7, 2008
Have you personally conveyed your disappointment to the administration or had your economic advisers get in touch with Hank Paulson and say, "Why aren't you doing more about mortgages?
We, we have specifically said that, moving forward, we have to have a housing component to any actions that we take. If we are only dealing with Wall Street and we're not dealing with Main Street, then we're only handling one-half of the problem.
And finally, what about those homeowners out there who are struggling to do the responsible thing, to pay their mortgages?
And now they look across the street and the neighbor may be getting bailed out. So they feel they're the victim of a double whammy. They're paying their taxes to bail out the guy across the street and struggling to pay their mortgages. Why wouldn't they just take a walk on their mortgage and say, "I want in on that"? Well, look, that, that's one of the tricky things that we've got to figure out how to structure.
We don't want what you just described, a moral hazard problem where you have incentive to act irresponsibly. But, you know, if my neighbor's house is on fire, even if they were smoking in the bedroom or leaving the stove on, right now my main incentive is to put out that fire so that it doesn't spread to my house. And I think most people recognize that even if there were some poor decisions made by home buyers, that right now our biggest incentive is to make sure that the housing market is strengthened.
I do think that we have to put in place a set of rules of the road, some financial regulations that prevent the kind of speculation and leveraging, that we saw, in the future. Advertise And so, as part of our economic recovery package, what you will see coming out of my administration right at the center is a strong set of new financial regulations in which banks, ratings agencies, mortgage brokers, a whole bunch of folks start having to be much more accountable and behave much more responsibly because we can't put ourselves--we, we can't create the kind of systemic risks that we're creating right now, particularly because everything is so interdependent.
We've got to have transparency, openness, fair dealing in our financial markets.
And that's an area where I think, over the last eight years, we've fallen short. President-elect, we're going to take a break. When we come back, we're going to talk about taxes, the fallout from Mumbai, obviously, Iraq and Afghanistan. More of our exclusive interview yesterday in Chicago with President-elect Barack Obama after this brief station break.
We're back with President-elect Obama. We want to talk about taxes. That was a central piece of your campaign. Here's what you had to say. We need to roll back the Bush-McCain tax cuts and invest in things like health care that are really important. Instead of giving tax breaks to the wealthy, who don't need them and weren't even asking for them, we should be putting a middle class tax cut into the pockets of working families. Have the economic conditions changed what you hoped to do about taxes?
Is that your plan? Well, understand what my original tax plan was. It was a net tax cut. Ninety-five percent of working families would get tax relief.
To help pay for that, people like you and me, Tom, who make more than a quarter million dollars a year, would play--pay slightly more. We'd essentially go back to the tax rates that existed back in the s. She also takes seriously the notion that a country like Germany has to participate in burden sharing when it comes to our key security issues. President Sarkozy in France feels the same way. Gordon Brown here in England feels the same way. Part of the problem that we've had is that because of the unpopularity of the war in Iraq, we have seen European voters very turned off with participation in coalitions generally, and that's impacted their ability to move troops into Afghanistan.
This is not just my assessment, Secretary Gates had a similar assessment a while back. And so what we want to do is to refocus attention, say that, you know, "We've got to be careful in terms of how we drawdown troops in Iraq, but America's going to make these commitments in Afghanistan. We need your help, we need your cooperation. And if we do, then we can finish the job and all of us will be safer.
And the troops that you take out of Iraq, those that don't go to Afghanistan, will they stay in the region and protect Saudi oil fields and the idea that there could be another resurgence of the insurgency in Iraq?
And where will they be deployed? Well, these are issues, obviously, that you'd have to work through with the commanders. I have committed to making sure that we've got a residual force that can do a couple of things. We can provide logistical support, intelligence support. Training for Iraqi troops is still going to be critical. They are now at a point where they are taking the lead in actions, but they are not completely independent of us, and we've got to make sure that that oversight, overwatch role continues.
And we've got to have a counterterrorism, a counterinsurgency strike force in the region. Where it's most effectively deployed, I think, is a decision that would be made in consultation with the, with the generals. How large that force might be, I think, is also something that we would want to consult with folks on the ground about, as well as the Iraqi government. And what countries would accept it. And what countries are going to be interested in having them.
But I think that if we have played our cards right in the coming months then you're going to see countries like Iraq, like Afghanistan, like Kuwait--those countries are going to be much more comfortable with our troop presence if they feel that they've been consulted and that there's not the prospect of a long-term occupation or permanent bases in Iraq.
Senator, you can't talk about Afghanistan without talking about Pakistan. Here's what you told Time magazine recently about additional assistance. You said, "We should condition some assistance to Pakistan on their action to take the fight to the terrorists within their borders. And if we have actionable intelligence about high-level al-Qaeda targets, we must act if Pakistan will not or cannot. That seems, to me, to be a fairly tepid statement, "We'll condition some assistance.
Well, I--it's not tepid at all, it's very concrete. We give money to Pakistan, much of it in the form of military aid. I would argue that too much of it has been in the form of just military aid and not enough of it has been in the form of building schools and building infrastructure in the country to help develop and give opportunity to the Pakistani people.
How, how do we measure that then? Then how do we know when they're not going after them? They say, as they have repeatedly, "We've been doing the best we can. Oh, well, my assessment is different, our intelligence assessments are different, our military commanders' assessments are different. The fact is, is that if you've got training camps in Pakistani territory where these folks are operating with--without any worry that they are going to be broken up or that strikes are going to take place--we know where these folks are.
You know, I was--I would talk to commanders and, and U. We have provided significant amounts of military aid, but much of it has been conventional military aid that is used by Pakistan because they're worried about India or they're involved in disputes about Kashmir. And the point that I've made is, is that if we are going to provide military assistance to Pakistan, we should at least expect that that money is effectively deployed to deal with what is the most important security threat that we face.
That only makes sense. On the other hand, we've also got to make sure that we're reaching out to the Pakistani government and helping them to provide a better life for their people. I'm sure you heard the same thing that I have heard every time I've gone to Pakistan. Got about million people there. The estimates are as many as 50 percent of them are sympathetic to the terrorists.
If the United States makes a unilateral attack, it'll set off a conflagration within Pakistan. That's part of the reason that Musharraf played it the way that he did. Well, look, there's no doubt that the situation in Pakistan is, is complicated.
I think it was made more complicated by our insistence on providing Musharraf with a lot of military aid, ignoring some of the problems in terms of his anti-democratic practices, and ignoring the fact that the Taliban and al-Qaeda was resurgent in that area. If we are reaching out to the Pakistanis and working with them not only about our security interests, but also about the well-being of the Pakistani people.
If we are encouraging democratic practices and human rights and making sure that Supreme Court justices are not kicked off the bench because they're not providing rulings that are of the liking to the military, that will gain more support for our policies in the region and in Pakistan, and hopefully will give more political space for them to act forcefully against the extremists in the region.
Let's move on to Israel, where you got very good notices across the political spectrum from Israeli leaders, but you also met with King Abdullah of Jordan. He recently told The Washington Post, and he's been saying in--this in the United States, as well; when asked if Iran is the number one threat of the region, he said, no, "I think the lack of peace [between Israel and the Palestinians] is the major threat. I don't see the ability of creating a two-state solution beyond I think this is really the last chance.
If this fails, I think this is going to be a major threat for the Middle East: That's our major challenge, I'm very concerned that the clock is ticking, that the door is closing on all of us. Did you tell him that you would appoint a presidential envoy who would report only to you to work exclusively on the issues of peace between the Palestinians and the Israelis?
I told him something approximating that. What I told him was that this will be an issue that I don't wait until the last minute to work on, that I want to pick up on some of the progress that has been made coming out of Annapolis. I give the Bush administration credit that the Annapolis process has gotten Prime Minister Olmert in Israel and President Abbas in the Palestinian territories to have very serious and frank discussions. I think they have moved the ball forward.
They may not be able to finish the job. They certainly can't finish it without serious participation by the next administration, and we've got to start early. Advertise And, and one thing I want to pick up on, because I think King, King Abdullah is as savvy a analyst of the region and player in the region as, as there is, one of the points that he made and I think a lot of people made, is that we've got to have an overarching strategy recognizing that all these issues are connected.
It will also weaken Iran, which has been using Hamas and Hezbollah as a way to stir up mischief in the region. So we've got to take all these issues, and I think the next president has to start very quickly in moving both on the peace process forward and still recognizing that issues like Iran are connected and of extraordinary priority.
You met with a wide variety of Israelis; you only met with Palestinian President Abbas. But you went to an Israeli village that had been shelled. You went to the Holocaust museum.
Any number of people have commented on the fact that you really didn't spend any time with Palestinian businessmen or go to a Palestinian family that lost a child to Israeli gunfire. You didn't even get a falafel in east Jerusalem while you were there.
Can't you see why anytime an American goes to the Middle East, goes to an Arab capital, on the street or in a corridors of power, they say, "You just do whatever the Israelis want you to do, and the politicians come out here looking for Jewish votes. Well, I, I, I don't think that's entirely fair. This is my second trip to Israel and the West Bank.
And the first time that I went, I did meet with Palestinian businessmen, I did talk to Palestinian students in Ramallah. When you're in a region for a day, you've got a lot of boxes that you've got to check.
And in Israel in particular, a big chunk of our day was meeting with not only the current prime minister, but former prime ministers and a whole bunch of people who intend to be prime minister. And the--it was important for us to make sure that we had covered our bases there.
But the, the larger point I think to be made is this. That the Palestinian people are having a very tough time right now economically, and it is in U. I think it's in Israelis' interest as well. And what I've said is that we're going to make sure that the Palestinians have the--a state that allows them to prosper as long as we also have certainty that Israel's security is not being compromised.
I think it's in the interest of both parties, but we are the critical ingredient in terms of making sure that a deal actually gets done.
You were a rock star, as you often are when you give a speech. You had some, by estimates,people listening to you. Not everyone in America was an admirer. Charles Krauthammer, the conservative columnist said, "He hasn't earned the right to speak there. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan went to Berlin, their rhetoric soared, but their optimism was grounded in the reality of politics, conflict and hard choices.
Kennedy didn't dream of the universal brotherhood of man. He drew lines that reflected hard realities. Reagan didn't call for a kumbaya moment. He cited tough policies that sparked harsh political disagreements.
FACT CHECK: Obama Explains National Anthem Stance?
We should help Palestinians and Israelis unite. We should unite to prevent genocide in Darfur. We should unite so the Iranians won't develop nukes. What Obama offered in Berlin flowed right out of that mind-set. It will take politics and power to address those challenges, the two factors that dare not speak their name in Obama's lofty peroration.
Obama has benefited form a week of good images. But substantively, optimism without reality isn't eloquence. Well, let me, let, let You're a candidate for president of the United States. Let me say first of all, there were a bunch of really good reviews that you didn't, you didn't put up on the screen.
I'd, I'd say there were about nine good reviews for every, every bad one. And number two, I think David Brooks is one of my favorite conservatives, but he is a conservative who is supportive of John McCain, so let's, you know, put that out there as, as a caveat.
But get to the point. But, but, but, but let's, let's get to the point. No one speech does everything, right? I could have delivered a exhaustive list of policy prescriptions.
I suspect thatpeople would have slowly drifted off as I entered into the 45th minute of the speech. What I was trying to do was provide some broad themes in terms of where America needs to go and where Europe needs to go. And contrary to David Brooks' suggestion and some of the suggestions of other conservatives, I was, I think, pretty clear about the, the difficulties of, of power and of politics.
When I specifically said that Europeans need to step up and do more in Afghanistan, that wasn't an applause line in Germany. When I talked about the fact that they need to do more in Iraq despite our past differences, that wasn't an applause line in Germany.
When I talked about the fact that there has been too much anti-American sentiment and a, and a stereotyping of America in Europe, that wasn't an applause line in Germany, that wasn't a bunch of high-flying rhetoric. So I, I think that, given the purpose that I had, which is to get Europeans to recognize the extraordinary sacrifices that Americans have made on behalf of world freedom and security and to get Americans to recognize we need partners in order to be effective to solve our problems, I would give myself a, a slightly better grade than David Brooks did.
Senator, we're going to give you a chance to make some real news here in a moment. You can talk about the vice presidential choices that may be on your mind. But we'll have a brief break first, and we'll be back to continue our discussion with Senator Obama, talk about his vice presidential choices, the economy, and also race in America. I'll have more from London with Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama after this brief station break.
And wherever you are, Senator, as you know, all politics is local. Vice presidential candidates, tantalizing to everyone. Recent poll said that, by a factor of about 60 percent, the American people believe that John McCain should have a vice presidential running mate who is strong on the economy. Think it's fair to say that conventional political wisdom in this country is that you need a vice presidential candidate who has very good national security credentials.
Is that your number one criteria? You know, I hate to do this to you, Tom, but I made a pledge that the next time you heard me talk about vice president it would be to introduce my vice presidential running mate.
So here's what I'll tell you: I'm going to want somebody with integrity; I'm going to want somebody with independence, who's willing to tell me where he thinks or she thinks I'm wrong; and I'm, I'm going to want somebody who shares a vision of the country where we need to go, that we've got to fundamentally change not only our policies, but how our politics works, how business is done in Washington. And I think that there are a number of great candidates out there. I'll be selecting one soon enough, and, and I'm sure NBC will be reporting on it.
Are you going to break the old rules? The old rules have been you pick a vice presidential candidate because you need electoral strength in some region and you need somebody who is stronger in some policy area than you are.
I, I think the most important thing from my perspective is somebody who can help me govern. I want somebody who I'm compatible with, who I can work with, who has a shared vision, who certainly complements me in the sense that they provide a knowledge base or an area of, of expertise that can be useful.
Because we're going to have a lot of problems and a lot of work to do, and I'm not interested in a vice president who I just send off to go to funerals. I want somebody who's going to be able to roll up their sleeves and really do some work. Mike Murphy, who you know is a political consultant primarily for Republicans, is now working with NBC as an analyst, said on this broadcast two weeks ago something very interesting.
He said, "Republican Party always has trouble when the Democrats put on the ticket a Southern white male Protestant. Will that be a factor in your consideration? Tom, you can fish as much as you want.
You're not going to get it out of me. Well, let me--you, you had a conversation with a prominent Hillary fundraiser that got reported in the Los Angeles Times, in which she asked you--she's still a fan of, of Hillary, and she said And is she on your list?
I think Hillary Clinton--I've said--this one I can actually answer, because I've said consistently that I think Hillary Clinton would be on anybody's short list. She, she is one of the most effective, intelligent, courageous leaders that we have in the Democratic Party.
And according to the woman that you were talking to, you said that "we just don't know what to do about Bill," or something to that effect. Oh, you know, I maybe--I think that a lot of conversations get characterized. I think that not only do I want Hillary Clinton campaigning with me, I want Bill Clinton, one of the smartest men in the history of politics, involved in our campaign. But I'm not going to, I'm not going to spill the beans here.
You, you can, you can do what you want Bill Clinton as, Bill Clinton as a surrogate for you day in and day out, throughout the campaign? I, I would love to have Bill Clinton campaigning for me. I--he was very effective when it came to our primary, you know. He was traveling to little towns in Texas and Ohio, and it was very hard to keep up, given that he was campaigning so hard at the same time as Hillary was campaigning as hard as she was.
We continue to hear that timing, obviously, will be a factor. It's no secret that next week the Olympics begin. And then America's attention will--we hope, at NBC--will be consumed by the Olympics, as it traditionally happens every four years. And then right after that, the Democrats have their convention.
Are you going to wait until the convention? You know, we will make the announcement when we make the announcement. Let, let me, let me just--and not to dodge, because I've already dodged enough. I think what's going to be on people's minds over the next week is going to be what's been on their minds for the last four weeks, and that is And so one of the things that I'll be doing on Monday, I'm going to be pulling together some of my core economic advisers--Paul Volcker, the former Fed chairman; Warren Buffet; Paul Schmidt--Eric Schmidt, the chairman of Google; Bob Rubin; Larry Summers; a host of people--Bob Reich--to come together and examine the policies that we've already put forward--a middle class tax cut, a second round of stimulus, a effort to shore up the housing market in addition to the bill that was already passed through Congress, what we need to do in terms of energy and infrastructure.
I think that that is what is driving people all across the country right now is worries and concerns about inability to pay the gas bill, inability to buy food because prices have gone up so high.
And the failures of the economy, despite the fact that we grew for seven years, to provide rising levels of income and wages for the American people, I think, indicates the degree to which we've got to fundamentally shift how we approach economic policy. Let me ask you a question about housing. A lot of attention this past week to federal aid for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the two government quasi-agencies that got themselves in real trouble.
Banks have gotten in trouble. There's now a housing bill out there to take care of people whose homes are being foreclosed. This is not as cold-blooded as it sounds, but I hear a lot of people around this country saying, "Look, I did the right thing. Or the lenders who were taking the fees and doing loans that they knew that would not be being paid back and walking away?
Why should the hard-working taxpayer in this kind of an economy have to bail those people out? They shouldn't, which is why a couple of points that I've made.
Any assistance to Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac should not be focused on the investors and the shareholders. It should not be focused on management. It should be focused on making sure that we've got liquidity in the housing market. And there are ways of making sure that we are not giving a windfall to investors who were enjoying the upside all these years of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, extremely profitable partly because there was this implied federal guarantee.
Well, if they enjoyed all that upside, they should enjoy some downside as well. Why not just reconstitute them as pure government agencies and take them out of the private sector? So there are, there are a host of complicated issues here. It is true that there may be some folks who didn't make the best decision that will still benefit from the home foreclosure plans that have been put forward.
But keep in mind that many of these folks were not so much speculators as they were probably in over their heads. They tried to get more house than they could afford because they were told by these mortgage brokers that they could afford it. We are better off helping them stay in their home if you can fix the mortgage and let them pay it off over time than have them foreclose, in which not only do they lose their home, not only do the lenders lose a lot, but that community suddenly sees its property values going down.
And what we need is a floor in the housing market, a, a stop to the decline in housing values, as well as some certainty on the part of lenders in terms of what houses are worth so that we can start restoring confidence in the housing market, but also confidence in the financial markets where credit has been contracting. And that's affecting a lot of terrific businesses and good sound developments and entrepreneurial opportunities because they just can't get good credit.
People are driving less now. In some states, there's an indication that maybe even traffic deaths are down. Well, I do not think that high gas prices are a good thing for American families. I mean, I've, I've met teachers who have quit their jobs because the school where they were teaching was just too far. It was consuming too much of their income. I've met people who lost their job and couldn't go on a job search because they couldn't fill up the gas tank.
Ordinary families are under extraordinary stress as a consequence of these high gas prices, so we need to do what we can to bring those prices down, but But there's no easy answer for that on a short term. The, the fact of the matter is that we should have, over the last 20 years, been planning for this day.