Barack Obama photo

Interview with Mark Wilson of FOX 13 - Tampa Bay

November 01, 2011

[partial transcript]


WILSON: As you know, in the Tampa/ St. Pete area, we're around 11 percent unemployment, among the highest in the country really, that number actually went up in 2009 after your first stimu-lus. So what would you tell Floridians wondering if you deserve another chance?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, I think what I would say is that we're nowhere near where we need to be, but keep in mind that when I took office, we had already lost one million jobs in the previous quarter. We had lost more than four million in the previous quarter and we lost another four million in the three months when I came into office, so our economic plan hadn't even had the chance to take effect.

We know the economy was contracting by nine percent when I came in. It was growing by four percent by the time the end of the year came around, so obviously the Recovery Act had an impact. But again, it's not enough.

We've got to do more, and that's why we've put together this jobs plan that incorporates the best ideas from Democrats and Republicans, rebuilds our roads, our bridges, our infrastructure, puts teachers back in the classroom. It would have a direct impact on what's going on in Florida, and what we need right now is Congress to go ahead and act, and they have been not acting in the inter-est of Floridians or the American people. We need to get moving.


WILSON: You won over a lot of the independent Florida voters, much of them, a couple of years ago base on your theme of "Hope and Change." The last couple of days we've had a lot of people tell us they haven't seen much change and given our economic outlook, they don't see much hope. Do you feel you've let them down?

THE PRESIDENT: No, and look, Florida's had a tough time partly because it was ground zero in terms of the housing bubble bursting and real estate has a huge impact on every state. But when you look at Florida, Arizona, Nevada, those places that had the biggest housing bubbles, they've been impacted the most. That's part of the reason why we're not just waiting for Congress to act.

This past week, we went ahead and said we're going to help families refinance their homes that could save thousands of dollars for homeowners, keep people in their homes that might be worried about making mortgage payments. We are, for example, working with NASA and the private sector to bring additional jobs to central Florida. Boeing just made an announcement that we're very happy about.

We're just plugging away, and the question is whether the approach we take, which is making in-vestments in schools, basic research infrastructure, making sure we're reducing our deficit in a bal-anced way not just by cutting. Although we've got to cut spending, but also by making sure that everybody's paying their fare share.

Whether that is the approach that Floridians think will grow our economy, or the approach that the other side's offering, which is basically we gut out environmental regulations and we cut taxes fur-ther for those at the top, we tried that. It didn't work, and ultimately the question is, which approach is a promising approach to get us out of a place which is tough for a lot of people right now?


WILSON: 54 percent of Americans favor repealing some version some part of that law. As you know, Florida leads the way in repealing it. What would you do differently now with regards to health care reform, knowing what we know now?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, look, keep in mind a million young people around the country have healthcare that didn't have it before because they can stay on their parent's healthcare plan. Millions of families all across the country benefited from additional drug benefits as a consequence of that healthcare plan. Thirty million Americans, including a lot of people in Florida, are going to be able to get healthcare next year because of that law.

So although it's been attacked by the insurance industry and a lot of money's been poured into making people uncertain about it, when you actually look at how ordinary folks are being affected, they now have protections they've never had before. They have certainty that insurance companies can't drop them just because they get sick. They can't prevent them from getting insurance because they've got a pre-existing condition. Seniors have benefited from being able to get free preventive care, and it's going to drive down costs overall.

Barack Obama, Interview with Mark Wilson of FOX 13 - Tampa Bay Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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