Obama on the Economy: "Things Are Going to Get Worse Before They Get Better"
By Anne E. Kornblut
President-elect Barack Obama warned in an interview aired Sunday that "things are going to get worse before they get better" with the economy, but he continued to portray the crisis as an opportunity to rebuild the country, both structurally and culturally.
One day after announcing the largest public works program in decades, Obama said his new economic framework would also include stricter regulation on the financial industry. He cast the economic downturn in the language of emergency management. Saying his top priority is to create jobs within a sustainable framework, Obama waved aside concerns about the rising deficit ("We've got to provide a blood infusion to the patient right now") and about giving assistance to homeowners who made bad financial decisions ("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").
On the question of smoking, Obama also that he has had a few lapses since quitting. He promised not to violate White House no-smoking rules.
Six weeks before taking office, just three weeks before Christmas, there was little levity in his taped appearance on "Meet the Press." Yet Obama, prodded by anchor Tom Brokaw, sought to put the challenges in perspective. He said the situation today is not as gave as it was for President Franklin Delano Roosevelt decades earlier, before New Deal safety nets were in place; he also said that he and his wife, Michelle, have discussed opening up the White House to musicians, artists, scientists and poets.
"Historically, what has always brought us through hard times is that national character, that sense of optimism, that willingness to look forward, that sense that better days are ahead," Obama said. "I think that our art and our culture, our science, that's the essence of what makes America special. And we want to project that as much as possible in the White House."
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