Black Enterprise Exclusive: Interview with President Barack Obama

The nations 44th president discusses how he plans to fix the economy and strengthen minority business.

banking system so credit is going to businesses again, and deal with housing and the foreclosure issue. We’ve got to lay the groundwork for some long-term investment in energy, healthcare, and education that can ensure long-term economic growth. So, we’ve got the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression and obviously the jobs numbers that we’ve been seeing confirm how it’s affecting ordinary families all across America. But I’m confident that if we handle this properly that we can use it as an opportunity to put our economy on firmer footing for the long term.

On measuring the impact of the stimulus plan: If we invest in areas like clean energy and weatherizing homes, then not only are we creating immediate jobs for people who may have been in the housing sector or young people who are currently out of work and need to be trained in the construction trades, we’re also helping families whose homes are weatherized save on their energy bills. We are also weaning ourselves off of Middle Eastern oil. Those kinds of combinations of measures that deal with the short-term crisis but also lay the foundation for long-term economic growth are absolutely critical.

On how quickly American citizens will gain relief: Those things that we can do administratively, we’re going to do right away. Obviously on housing, for example, we’ve got to make sure that we get it right and help actually gets to homeowners. There are a lot of complexities involved in terms of figuring out how people who have mortgages that are now with service providers as opposed to being held by a bank are negotiated. So we’ve got to get it right, but we intend to get help out the door as fast as possible.

On critics who say the package is too big: Keep in mind that there are other critics who say it’s too small and doesn’t do enough. But the bottom line is that we are going to be losing about $2 trillion worth of output over the next two years if we do nothing. To the critics, I would just say talk to Democratic and Republican economists, conservative and liberal economists, from every school of economic thought. There is almost uniform consensus that not only do we need a stimulus package but it needs to be big enough to actually jolt the economy in place.

On ensuring transparency and accountability: We want to make sure that we have an independent board that is providing transparency, accountability, and oversight before the money goes back out the door and while the money is being spent. We’ve also set up a Website called Recovery.gov that will provide people with means of accessing the White House to report back on how this money is impacting the community. People are going to be able to track who is getting the money, how it’s being spent, how many jobs are being created in particular communities around the country. We think it’s very important that this is a completely

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