Barack Obama photo

Interview With Chuck Todd on NBC's "Today"

July 16, 2010

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The President: The main thing that keeps me up at night right now is we lost 8 million jobs. The month I was sworn in, we lost 750,000 jobs. We've regained about 600,000 this year so far. And if we stay on pace, hopefully we'll gain several hundred thousand more. But making up for that 8 million is still going to be a challenge.

Look, nobody in the White House is satisfied with where we are right now. What we absolutely are convinced of, though, is that we're on the right track. And I think that the statistics bear that out.

Chuck Todd: What do you tell the person who may have voted for you, can't find a job or got laid off since you took office, why they should still keep the Democrats in charge?

The President: If somebody's out of work right now, the only answer that I'm going to have for them is when they get a job. Up until that point, from their perspective, the economic policies aren't working. That's my job as president is to take responsibility for moving us in the right direction.

Chuck Todd: You talk about a choice election this fall. Are you prepared for the fact that now that means your policies -- it's a referendum on you and your policies and that the voters may say, "You know what, we're putting the Republicans in charge"?

The President: This is going to be a choice between the policies that got us into this mess and my policies that are getting us out of this mess. And I think if you look at the vast majority of Americans, even those who are dissatisfied with the pace of progress, they'll say that the policies that got us into this mess we can't go back to.

Chuck Todd: Do you think Washington is broken? And the reason I ask you this, because when you appointed -- you did the recess appointment of Donald Berwick, you seemed to send the message of one of two things: Either you didn't want a debate about health care again on Capitol Hill, which got a little raucous a year ago, or, "You know what, the Senate process is broken and we've got to go around it"?

The President: You know, the fact of the matter is that I can't play political games with the Senate on these issues. I've got a government to run. And at a certain point, we have to go ahead and just make sure that people are in place to deal with the enormous challenges that are ahead.

Chuck Todd: So you're not ready to say Washington's broken.

The President: Well, here's what I'm ready to say, that Washington has spent an inordinate amount of time on politics -- who's up, who's down -- and not enough on how are we delivering for the American people.

The good news is that despite no cooperation from the other side, we have, over the last two years, stopped an economic free fall, stabilized the financial sector. When people are determined and are willing to take tough votes even when it's politically inconvenient, we can still get things done.

Chuck Todd: I've got to leave it there. Vacation in the Gulf? I know the first lady was down there touting it in Panama City, Florida. Are we going to see you guys down there?

The President: You know, we're going to be trying to figure out where we're going to be able to take some time over the course of the summer. But a month of it's going to be taken up with Malia going away for camp, which she's never done before. And I may shed a tear --

Chuck Todd: A little anxiety.

The President: -- when she's on the way up.

Barack Obama, Interview With Chuck Todd on NBC's "Today" Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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